The critical role of unions


By Lindsay Advocate

The collective bargaining power wielded by unions serves as a counterbalance to the influence of powerful corporations, ensuring that the interests of workers are not eclipsed by profit-driven motives.

Unions have long been a cornerstone of Canadian society, playing a pivotal role in shaping the country’s labour landscape, including here in Kawartha Lakes.

They provide a collective voice for workers, ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and equitable employment practices. Unions also play a crucial role in political advocacy. They lobby for policies that protect workers’ rights and interests, contributing to the development of progressive labour legislation.

But perhaps the most important role they play is in how they contribute to greater income equality by advocating for fair wage distribution. They help to narrow the wage gap between different sectors and demographics, promoting a more equitable society.

It is common to hear negative comments from non-unionized workers because unionized workers typically make higher wages. But unions often set the bar for better wages for everyone, eventually. When they secure higher wages for their members, it can indirectly raise pay standards across the industry – including for non-unionized workers. Employers may then need to offer competitive wages to attract and retain skilled workers.

Bashing unions for their success in securing higher wages and benefits for workers is a race to the bottom in thinking. It is exactly the kind of thinking that large corporations like to exploit, to keep workers divided. The collective bargaining power wielded by unions serves as a counterbalance to the influence of powerful corporations, ensuring that the interests of workers are not eclipsed by profit-driven motives.

By negotiating collective agreements, unions also contribute to a more balanced distribution of wealth. This equitable approach to wealth distribution is a cornerstone of a more successful, healthier society, for there is nothing more divisive in society than economic inequality.

As Lindsay resident David Rapaport writes in the February 2024 edition of the Advocate, the new reality of our economy, replete with precarious work and ‘gig’ jobs means there are few protections for such workers. As he notes, “…unions that have the power to challenge the politics and economics of ultra-greed can effectively address those realities and inequalities.”


  1. Joan Abernethy says:

    Greed is terrible to behold, whether in individuals, corporations, or union collectivists. As Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan, once opined about unions:

    “Sure was a good idea,
    Until greed got in the way.”
    (Sundown on the Union)

    But wrongful political advocacy is just as ugly to behold. The virulent Jew hatred the whole world has recently witnessed come out of the mouth of CUPE president, Fred Hahn, illustrates the limits of union “political advocacy”.

    Triggered by the antisemitism expressed by Fred Hahn in support of the October 7th Hamas attacks on Jewish innocents, 25 Jewish members of CUPE have filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission alleging antisemitic incidents spanning at least five years by Canada’s largest labour union.

    Camille Awada resigned as president of the federal public service union Canadian Association of Professional Employees after he came under file for similar antisemitic mobilizations of bias going back several years.

    Unions have an important role to play in establishing labour fair practices but their politics are a disaster of bigotry.

    The control of extreme power and wealth, by individualist or collectivist agents, corrupts and serves humanity poorly. As a species, we should probably aim for a global democratic administration of shared resources, not any kind of authoritarian rule, although technocratic expertise will be important in the administration of digital governments.

  2. Wallace says:

    One huge mistake was allowing public service employees to unionize. Is there any less productive group of humans in Canada than these people ? At least in the private sector, unionized employees still have to be productive. Otherwise the company goes broke. This is not the case in the public sector. There are more and more public sector employees every year and less productivity than ever. At some point, politicians will have to grow some back bone and challenge public sector unions. Otherwise the province will go bankrupt. The tax payer can’t keep filling the trough for these people much longer.

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