Unions furious over labour law 'flip flop'

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The provincial government appears to be doing an about-face on labour issues in the province — reversing key amendments to the Labour Relations Act just two years after they were announced.

Mary Shortall. — Western Star file photo

Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall called the proposed amendments on the order paper in the House of Assembly an attack on workers' rights.

“It is an affront to the workers of this province that government did this with absolutely no consultation with the labour movement,” Shortall said.

Back in 2012, then-minister Terry French announced that the government would introduce card-based certification which would allow automatic certification of a union if 65 per cent of the people in a workplace signed a union card.

On the other side of the ledger, the government announced that employers would be given the power to put an offer directly to workers during the collective bargaining process, bypassing the union negotiating committee.

At the time, French emphasized the balance of the two new provisions.

But while the card-based automatic union certification came into force shortly after the June 2012, announcement, the ability for employers to put a contract offer directly to their workers for a vote was never enacted.

Now, the government has quietly introduced a bill to rescind card-based automatic certification.

“What has happened in those two years to justify this flip-flop?” Shortall asked in a news release. “This change has nothing to do with democracy in the workplace — it’s all about capitulating to the business interests and making it more difficult for workers to organize themselves into unions. If the government under Frank Coleman is going to operate like a Harper government — then I expect it will be a very short lived one.”

The change will likely make employers' groups happy.

In December when the N.L. Employer's Council complained about the lopsided approach by government, then-minister Darin King said he'd look into it.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, N.L. Employer

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Recent comments

  • Jeff Andrews
    June 03, 2014 - 10:37

    Yes, because we would hate for the workers at Sobeys to be able to afford to buy groceries.

  • Shane
    June 03, 2014 - 10:19

    if you don't like it do what you unions do best.... GO ON STRIKE!!

  • Robb
    June 03, 2014 - 09:13

    Just who the hell does this shortall joker think she is. I curse her and that other one lana payne every time I walk into sobeys, and see the price of bacon at 6.99. Easy for these creeps to demand more and more with every contract, but we are all paying for it in one way or another. I say ban the unions, I just can't afford anything anymore.

    • Wallace
      June 03, 2014 - 10:16

      bring in the TFW, merchants will drop prices then for sure. BTW, There is a pork shortage, that's why bacon is expensive Serious about that though. Maybe you should sign up your company to a union card.

    • Bob
      June 03, 2014 - 10:29

      And couldn't afford an education either.

    • Jack
      June 03, 2014 - 10:42

      Firstly, Mary Shortall is the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. The clue was there in the first sentence. Secondly, what does the price of bacon have to do with unions? If you can't afford bacon, get a job. If you're lucky, you will get a unionized job where you can get a decent wage to afford bacon (even if you are stupid enough to pay $6.99) and a decent standard of living. Not everyone is keen to work for poverty wages. Don't blame the union movement because you are.

    • Scabby McSnivells
      June 03, 2014 - 10:48

      I curse Mary Shortall and Lana Payne every time I see a worker with a shread of self-respect, a decent benefit package, and a happy, comfortable life.

    • Robb
      June 03, 2014 - 12:50

      Oh, the union creeps are at it big time. Hey Bob, I have 2 degrees, one Bachelor and one Masters, both in Post-Secondary Education, thank you. And Wallace, if you think I only mean bacon is expensive, then you must be living off of someone else. Go to the grocery store....everything that used to be $2 is now $4 and $5 plus. So stop being stupid. Jack, I am making 60K plus, so I get my decent wage from my education, certainly not letting a bunch of union creeps negotiating a wage for me. And finally Scabby McSnivells, if you want to have "a shread of self-respect, a decent benefit package, and a happy, comfortable life", go get an education, you'll be pleased with the outcome. And for all you creeps defending the unions, they have lost their purpose and really only protect the lazy and the greedy, and please don't even try to defend them, I have been there, done that, and it's just plain ugly.

    • Robb
      June 03, 2014 - 12:53

      Oh, the union creeps are at it big time. Hey Bob, I have 2 degrees, one Bachelor and one Masters, both in Post-Secondary Education, thank you. And Wallace, if you think I only mean bacon is expensive, then you must be living off of someone else. Go to the grocery store....everything that used to be $2 is now $4 and $5 plus. So stop being stupid. Jack, I am making 60K plus, so I get my decent wage from my education, certainly not letting a bunch of union creeps negotiate a wage for me. And finally Scabby McSnivells, if you want to have "a shread of self-respect, a decent benefit package, and a happy, comfortable life", go get an education, you'll be pleased with the outcome. And for all you creeps defending the unions, they have lost their purpose and really only protect the lazy and the greedy, and please don't even try to defend them, I have been there, done that, and it's just plain ugly.

    • Bob
      June 03, 2014 - 14:29

      Wow, in education, that's right up there with history or folklore. When you make a mistake you really want to go big and become a "master" at it. I guess it's true, 'Those that can - do, those that can't - teach'. By the way, most people with degrees are in unions. But if you had invested in a better education you would know that.

    • Hunter
      June 03, 2014 - 15:56

      Hey Robb, here's a headline for you -Sobeys isn't unionized, Dominion is. If your complaint is that you can not afford to buy anything anymore, then maybe you need union representation in your workplace. Fact is these big retailers are publicly traded corporations. The corporate view: Their share holders are more important than their front-line employees. The end result is long line-up at the cash because there is no staff and you pay $6.99 for a package of bacon.

    • Hunter
      June 03, 2014 - 16:35

      Robb.... Sobey's is not unionized (Dominion is). These publicly traded corporations place no value on their front-line workers. The huge profits generated by pricing bacon @ $6.99 are used to buy real estate; pay the salaries of senior managers who fly around the country and get huge salaries & bonuses; and give a good return to the share holders. Poorly stocked shelves and lack of adequate staffing (ie. not enough cashiers) are a result of poor management. (One must be pretty desperate to work in that type environment.) The employee and /or the union do not draft the plan and set the prices.

    • RObb
      June 03, 2014 - 19:38

      Well Bob, you were the one who brought up education, so now you want to qualify it? Get your comments straight before you open the gaping hole. So most people with degrees are in unions? Bull pal. Another comment without fact, as I would love to see that stat. You union creeps make up anything to justify, don't you.

    • Too Funny
      June 04, 2014 - 07:51

      "joker", "creeps", "bull", "gaping hole&qu