Sunday, 21 September 2014

Union Support in Civic Elections

(Sitting quietly, drumming my fingers, watching for signs that folks 'get' the importance of the Union nod in Winnipeg's Civic politics...)

Hey, hi. Miss me?

So, as usual, the content on this page is my anonymous opinion only.

Here we go...

If you do a bad thing (and get caught...), get yourself a lawyer to represent you. Lawyers' services are for sale, still largely following the guidelines laid down by the Sophists in ancient Greece. You can buy representation, even if your cause is... somewhat dubious. Such is our system, and we have been sticking to it.

An agent who is for, and only for, their 'client' will make a stand in opposition to ideals, 'the good', evidence, or whatever else is flung their client's way. The process of defending the seemingly indefensible requires the criminal defence lawyer to transcend the normal bounds of common decency. They are all-in on the side of their client, and damn the goody-goody torpedoes.

Unions are similar in that way. They serve only those who pay them. Right?

In Winnipeg, the collective political will of the various Unions gets legs through the Labour Council. Also in Winnipeg, some civic candidates get their legs through the Labour Council's 'endorsement'.

Now, listen, I am not going to rant on the Union's right to political action. They have it, they use it, and they break no law or guidelines by their simply exercising this right. Go to town, Union bosses (within the boundaries of the rules, of course.)

I am going to rant a wee bit about what their participation means to civic elections, though.

Let's take a School Board election, say, Winnipeg School Board. Governed by elected Trustees, right? In WSD, there are nine elected Trustees, so five votes gets you a majority. Five votes, should they be stacked and whipped, controls the largest single employer in the Province (pretty sure they are). Five votes drive a $400 million annual budget in the direction they see fit.

Five votes.

... and how many Trustee Candidates are the Union's backing in WSD this fine 2014 civic election?

What, do I need to offer a prize? Of course the answer is five. Go see their page on Facebook. Google Winnipeg Labour Council Facebook, look at their mid-June posting of the officially endorsed candidates.

Lets unpack the implications of a Union controlling a School Board through a 'Union-backed' stacked and whipped Board of School Trustees.

Recall that a Union, like a criminal defence lawyer, has only one client: its own membership. They exist solely to serve their dues-paying members. Who within our schools are members of the Union? Better to ask who isn't, much shorter list...

So, if practically every paid grown-up in the school system is tied to a Union, then... who is supposed to represent the families? Who speaks for the taxpayers? Who fights for the rights of students? Who has the 'trust' of every non-union stakeholder involved and invested in the schools?

The Board of 'Trustees'... obviously.

So now ask yourself, what do Union-backed Trustees need to do in order to earn and keep their Union-backing? Do they... oh, I dunno... need to support the Union in return? Hmmm? What do you think, eh self?

So, about the kerfluffle that Trustee Babinsky raised this week.

Check it out (click me!)

You have to understand the frustration that a real community-representing Trustee endures when faced with a stacked, whipped Board filled with 'Union-endorsed' Trustees. They know the duty of care a Trustee takes on when elected by the families in their Ward. It must be heart-breaking to sit at the Board table and watch such an obvious abdication of the role all around them. They vote against the Union-backed tide again, and again, always with the same sad result.

Their tongues are cut out by a $50,000.00 penalty for breaking the gag order imposed in the secret 'in camera' board meetings. Their hearts are ripped out as vote after voted gets whipped, stacked, and shoved through the secret 'Committee of the Whole.' Their voice is silenced by, it appears, some pretty high-level tampering with the Board minutes (c'mon Minister, investigate it.)

So now you have a slack anonymous blogger unpacking the implications of Union-backed Civic campaigns. I had to comment after Mike went public, because...

The Newspapers aren't. Nary a word on the subject of the whipped voting record so far. Freaky.


The PC party isn't saying anything publicly about this matter. That is just plain weirdo.


What about the MB Liberals?

Don't even ask me that.

Don't     even     ask     me     that.

Wise reader, I know you have many opinions about the Mayoral race. Oh, and you could talk my ear off about the Councillors, I know, I know...

But heck, damn, people, these are our kids. Maybe we need to focus on this issue just a wee bit more. Maybe I need to go through the voting record (what little is recorded...) and show you the pattern... ummm..

I better actually get on that.

(Oh... and just for colour, who is the Chair of the secret Committee of the Whole at WSD...?

Why, Trustee Mark Wasyliw, former NDP Federal Candidate... and big time Criminal Defence lawyer.