Is it Tea Party politics or worker choice?


In our conversation with MPP Jeff Yurek last week, we promised to focus on his party’s white paper, “Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets.”
The talking points sent this way by Yurek’s legislative assistant William Ross stress the white paper, which was adopted last month at the PC convention in London, aims to address “the requirement that workers, as a condition of employment, be a union member; and the requirement that workers must pay dues or fees to a union in order to keep his or her job. These dues are automatically deducted from paycheques and union bosses are not required to publicly disclose how the money is spent.
“Third party, empirical economic data seem to support the idea of worker choice,” Ross points out. (The information forwarded by Yurek’s office is available at the end of this post.)
Critics like the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) warn the PC party is formally adopting U.S. Tea Party labour politics that advocate policies “that would undo the rights working people have had in this country for more than a half century.”

The comparison is on the OPSEU blog here.
“It’s just not American,” Yurek counters, “Australia and many countries in Europe have democracy back in the workplace and it’s making unions more accountable to their members, to see where their money is flowing.”
So, is the white paper significantly different from Tea Party policy to make it palatable to the electorate at large?
“I believe so. People have to look at what’s going on around the world. People wouldn’t think Australia is a major right-wing Tea Party country, however they’ve got the same rules in place as many of the American states do.
“It’s going to be another option out there to have manufacturers look at Ontario as a place to want to do business in. It will help make us competitive with places surrounding us like Michigan and Wisconsin and I guess Saskatchewan is heading down the same path. We need to be there so we can attract manufacturing.
“I think this will definitely help alleviate the exodus of manufacturing from our province. What’s going on now, it’s not working. We keep doing the same thing over and over and hoping for jobs to come back. It’s time to do a re-boot of the system.”
The white paper was adopted by only about 45% of the delegates in London. Does that not portend troubles come election time, quite possibly next spring?
“It was a pretty close vote,” Yurek conceded. “On Saturday, it was close votes on the majority of them (policy papers). I’ve learned conservatives like to debate every issue as long as they can.”
Former provincial party leader John Tory warned of adopting the labour white paper, so did that impact the debate?
“He didn’t come down to the convention. I’d like to hear his input. I think he should come talk to the caucus and the party instead of through the media.”
Next week we’ll delve into the John Tory issue a little further and the OPSEU right-to-work documentary “Made in the USA,” which Yurek refers to as a “fearmongering attack ad,” according to the OPSEU blog.”

It was just about a year ago Jason McComb garnered plenty of media attention when he walked from St. Thomas city hall to its counterpart in London to appear as a guest speaker of the London Homeless Coalition.
Jason, you may recall, gained notoriety in this corner last October when he recounted his efforts to drop off a flyer on the second floor at city hall and was promptly encouraged by four city police officers to leave before having the opportunity to speak with Mayor Heather Jackson.

Jason McComb on his 2012 walk from St. Thomas city hall to its counterpart in London.

Jason McComb on his 2012 walk from St. Thomas city hall to its counterpart in London.

After an exchange of Tweets between the Mayor and City Scope, a meeting was arranged and things began to turn around for Jason.
Well the advocate for the homeless is going to repeat last year’s walk early next Thursday in honour of Homeless Action Day and to attend a ceremony to unveil a memorial to honour homeless individuals who have died, an initiative of the London Homeless Coalition.
If you’d like to accompany Jason, visit his website at
For the most part, it’s been a turnaround year for Jason, who is homeless by choice.
He has been appointed residence adviser at a new transitional housing facility on Talbot St. for men who are at risk of being homeless in St. Thomas which was formally opened back in June.
Frustrating for Jason, nothing is expected to happen at the converted building, which will house seven units, until November.
Jason has also been employed by the Downtown Development Board to help beautify the city’s core, however being a cleanliness zealot has landed him in trouble with the city’s parks department.
Seems city CAO Wendell Graves and parks and recreation director Ross Tucker have made it clear to Jason while he is employed by the DDB or even when he is just visiting any of the downtown parkettes, he is no longer allowed to clean up litter in any of the Talbot Street parks.
“They don’t want me in those parks, they don’t want me cleaning them,” Jason told us. “I was doing it for free for months and months. But now I’m an employee of the DDB I’m not allowed to pick up litter from the parks, even if I’m just sitting there having a coffee.
“Honestly, I’ve got over 500 pictures of garbage that has sat there for days and days which I am no longer allowed to pick up. They were fine with it until they learned of my employment.”
This isn’t a continuation of the city versus DDB squabble is it?
Or is Jason far too efficient in his efforts to keep the downtown core free of litter.
More to follow in the saga of the homeless man shaming city employees.

“Canadians can do these jobs. I’m surprised Joe Preston isn’t standing there with his arm around a couple of these foreign workers showing his support for Harper’s policy of Canadian workers last. Employ Canadians you fools.”
Posted on the Times-Journal Facebook page by “fatsadie” in reference to a story in Friday’s paper Japanese workers are helping speed production at the Takumi Stamping plant in St. Thomas.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to

Here is the background information provided by MPP Jeff Yurek’s office . . .

Union Membership Backgrounder

Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets

Last year, the PC Party released a policy paper aimed at modernizing Ontario’s labour laws. The paper can be found here. Two aspects of the current labour laws that the paper address include:

The requirement that workers, as a condition of employment, be a union member; and The requirement that workers must pay dues or fees to union in order to keep his or her job. These dues are automatically deducted from paycheques and union bosses are not required to publically disclose how the money is spent.

Third party, empirical economic data seem to support the idea of worker choice. The following are some excerpts from various studies that have looked at ‘Right-to-Work’ versus ‘Non-Right-to-Work’ jurisdictions in the United States:

Over the ten year period of 2001-2010, states that gave workers a choice saw 11 per cent higher economic growth, 11 per cent higher personal income growth and a 3 per cent increase in employment growth, versus a 1 per cent decline in states where some form of union dues are mandatory. (Source: Eureka!: How to Fix California by Arthur Laffer and Wayne Winegarden)

According to Ohio University Professor of Economics Richard Vedder, income per person has increased at a far faster rate in worker choice states than in forced unionism states going all the way back to 1977. Specifically, he found that yearly personal income was $2,800 higher in states with worker choice reforms. (Source: CATO Journal, 2010)

Manufacturing employment in the states without right-to-work laws is virtually the same now as it was in 1947, but manufacturing employment has increased 150 percent in the right-to-work states. Of the 10 states with the highest manufacturing employment growth rates, 8 are right to work states; of the 10 states with the lowest growth rates, none is a right to work state. (Source: Holmes, Thomas. “The Effect of State Policy on the Location of Manufacturing: Evidence from State Borders”. The Journal of Political Economy 106 (1998): 667. The University of Chicago.)

Paul Kersey, Director of Labor Policy for the non-partisan Mackinac Centre think-tank, found over the five-year period between 2001 and 2006, the average worker choice state saw its gross state product grow by 18.1 per cent, versus 13.5 per cent in forced unionism states. (Source: Mackinac Centre for Public Policy, 2007)

Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been cited as justification for worker’s rights is at states (Source: here):
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in 2006 and 2007 that non-unionized employees have no obligation to join a union or, when a member, to pay union dues for purposes other than collective bargaining. The Court found that these two mechanisms violate freedom of association. Its decision is enforceable in the 47 countries composing the Council of Europe. (Source: here)

3 thoughts on “Is it Tea Party politics or worker choice?

  1. Hello Ian,
    Thank you again for your assistance by (not only) writing this story! Your column alone has indirectly helped in so many areas and so many lives! Your encouragement, motivation, and assistance paralleled with a handful of others feeds me with what I need in order to push past the obstacles that are seemingly a must for some to put in my way along with the ones already present! As I have done my best to prove thus far, I will continue pushing past them until the day that will inevitably be realized arrives when, we treat everyone as they should be treated…. LIKE HUMAN BEINGS!

    Jason H. McComb
    Homeless Happens Helping Hands


  2. Funny how Yurek avoids the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and uses organizations heavily funded by big business… This from the Globe and Mail: In right-to-work states, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage as of May 2011 ranged from lows of $13.11 (U.S.) in Mississippi and $13.68 in Arkansas to highs of $15.70 in Nevada and $16.40 in Arizona. When you chop off the highs and the lows, most were in the area of $14 and change or $15 and change.

    In those states without such rules, the median hourly wage ranged from lows of $13.46 in West Virginia and $14.13 in Montana to highs of $19.87 in Connecticut and $20.65 in Alaska. But many were in the area of about $17 and up.


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