« Back to News

April 10, 2013

"Right to Work" Better Known as "Right to Work for Less"

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths and Forgers are opposed to any "Right to Work" legislation in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) reports that the Conservative Government of Canada is developing legislation to bring in Right to Work for federal government employees. Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have threatened that they will bring Right to Work legislation to the province if they win the next election.

What is Right to Work? It is legislation where workers have the right to opt out of paying union dues, but still receive all the benefits of the union. In other words, it gives workers the right to ride the coattails of their co-workers. While their co-workers are working hard at improving and maintaining their rights in the workplace, which have been gained through collective bargaining, these workers are enjoying a free ride.

Another way to think about it: You pay your property taxes every year to support such services as schools, hospitals, police, fire departments, community centres, etc. Your neighbour does not pay taxes but enjoys all those service that you are paying for. What do you think about that? Right to Work is the same thing.

The purpose of governments and unfair employers who support such legislation is to weaken unions and reduce the gains workers have achieved since the Trade Union Act of 1872. This is the same reason why some provincial governments change the definition of what a union is and in turn allow the creation of alternative organizations that will work with unfair employers to create agreements that undercut all the gains unions have achieved.

In the United States, where 24 states have Right to Work Laws, the AFL-CIO reports that in these states there are lower wages & incomes, less job-based health insurance coverage, higher poverty & mortality rates, less investment in education and higher rates of death on the job. The CLC reports that in Canada unionized workers earn $5.11 more an hour than non-union workers, adding $793 million more each week to our country and economy.

Unions cannot function properly when non-members of the bargaining unit receive all the benefits of union members who pay the full freight for the free riders. These are the reasons the Boilermakers oppose Right to Work legislation.

Related Content: No Free Ride: A message to OPSEU members from Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President