Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the Group No. 2 amendments to Bill C-19. First I will address one of the most important amendments which has come forward on this bill. It is proposed in the interests of maintaining democracy and protecting the rights of workers.
The Canada Labour Code states that the board may order a representational vote on union certification to satisfy itself that the workers want a union. Our amendment calls for the board to, without exception, hold a representational vote when 35% of the employees sign cards indicating they want union certification. This amendment would ensure that the wishes of the majority of workers in a workplace are upheld.
Closely related to that amendment is our Motion No. 30 which would do away with the intent of Bill C-19 to allow the CIRB to certify a union even when there is no evidence of majority support if the board believes in its wisdom that there is sufficient support to justify certification. This turns democracy and labour relations upside down.
The determination of under what conditions this certification would be allowed would be entirely in the hands of the CIRB. Bureaucrats rule. We have seen in the sovereign province of Ontario what happens when there is this type of labour legislation. The Wal-Mart case in Windsor is an example of what would happen in federally regulated industries if Bill C-19 were to pass without amendment.
To refresh the memory of hon. members, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that Wal-Mart agreed to certify the union even though the employees at the Windsor store voted 151 to 43 against it. That was in May 1997. The board contended that Wal-Mart had pressured the employees to vote against the union with threats that the store would close if it were unionized. Now the employees are fighting to get rid of their union and a decertification drive is under way. Why should they have to go through that?
That brings up another problem with Bill C-19. There is no provision in the bill for secret ballots. If there were a provision for secret ballots, both in certification and in strike votes, then there would be no problem with questions of pressure being applied to workers because nobody would know how they voted. The people of Canada who send us here have a secret ballot when choosing their representatives.
In the meat and potatoes issue of who is going to represent them at the bargaining table, we do not and will not extend the voting privilege by secret ballot to working people regarding whether or not they want to certify union A , union B or none of the above. Whatever happened to freedom of association in this country? This is an absurdity.
The bill has another related anti-democratic measure which was partially smoothed over in committee, but not to the extent that it is yet acceptable to the Reform Party, and that is the requirement that employers must provide union organizers during a certification drive not only with the names of their employees, which is certainly fair ball, but also with their phone numbers and addresses.
If someone was bucking union certification in their workplace would they want their phone number or their address to be made public?
We went through this sort of thing in this country about 50 years ago when the Liberal government of the day, in its wisdom, brought Hal Banks into Canada to break the seamen's union and to set up a union more to the satisfaction of the Canadian government.
It got the names and addresses of the members. There were seafarers who had their legs broken. There were even captains of vessels, who were not directly involved because they did not have to belong to the union, but because they were suspect of having taken the wrong side they were beaten up. The goons knew where everybody could be found.
I know we have come a long way in the last 40 or 50 years. There is not the extent of union goonism now that there was in those days and it is not protected, aided and abetted by our federal government. Nevertheless, it still happens.
Anyone who has worked in forestry, anyone who has had anything to do particularly with the ports of this country, knows that people still have to watch their step if they do not want to get their nose smashed. That is the way it is.
We in this House should be realistic enough to appreciate that the whole world does not live in the little gilded cage that we inhabit on Parliament Hill. Things get rough out there in the real world.
We should not be setting people up to be in a position where they have to step up and say “Yes, we agree” in order to protect themselves and their families. That is nuts.
It is a privacy issue. Even the privacy commissioner, our late, lamented privacy commissioner who is no longer with us, said that this is a very clear invasion of privacy. It is anti-democratic.
Bill C-19 now has been partially ameliorated. It says that the employer does not absolutely have to provide this information because the employee can take the initiative and go to the employer and say “Please don't give them this information”.
This in itself sets him up because then, in the workplace, that worker can be fingered. They can say “Hey, he did not want us to know where he lives. He did not want us to know his phone number. Why?” It is a bit of a half-step, but it does not nearly go far enough.
Those are the big problems with certification without majority support. I do not know who on earth came up with that stroke of genius.
I have carried a union card. I imagine there are other members of this House who have carried a union card. I swear to God if I had ever been confronted with a situation like that where a group of bureaucrats said “that union is going to represent you and you have no choice in the matter” I would not have been a happy camper. If we do not get rid of any other bad features of this bill, and they are legion, surely by passing Motion No. 30 we can get rid of that one.
The final thing I would like to mention is final selection arbitration. We have been promoting this very strongly in the debates on this bill and I will not go into the details as I am sure the House is now familiar with them.
We have a strike coming up in the very near future with the air traffic controllers. They are ready to hit the bricks at NavCan. They and NavCan management are so far apart there is absolutely no possibility of reaching an agreement without outside interference. As usual, both sides of the debate are sitting there waiting and hoping the federal government will save their bacon by passing back to work legislation when it happens; the old routine. They can snarl and growl and start the strike but the federal government will come to the rescue.
If we had final offer selection arbitration this sort of thing could not happen, would not happen. The parties could freely negotiate and at the end of the day it would be settled by arbitrators and life would go on without a lot of difficulty.