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June 27, 2021

Play hardball with public sector unions, recommends labour lawyer

With the recent postal lockout, the disparity between public and private-sector employees has jumped to the forefront again.

Str Many Canadians in the private sector, tired of layoffs, wage freezes and rollbacks, as well as the shrinkage in some of their benefits, openly resent their public counterparts’ seemingly cushy working conditions.

Not totally surprising – particularly when you consider public sector wage increases have eclipsed those in the private sector for the past four years.

What’s worse though is that most people (including the majority of MSN readers it seems) really don’t like being held hostage by public sector unions which increase the cost of government almost expotentially.

The solution: Fire the advisors and lawyers who have brought the public to this precipice and aren't ready to play hardball, says labour lawyer Howard Levitt whom, I assume, tends to sit on management's side of these debates.   

His solution: First, take tough positions at the bargaining table and, if the union strikes, make sure the cost of that strike is taken out of the employees’ future salaries and benefits before the strike is settled.

Second, if things go to arbitration, a costly choice in his mind, the government should quickly ensure that arbitrators make comparisons of salary and benefits in the private sector their main criteria in any settlement.

Finally, couple that benchmarking with provisions requiring arbritators to adjust wages up or down to establish greater parity, he says. In this way, ordering workers back to work threough legislation would actually mean something.

The result: Fewer strikes, less strain on the economy and a slowly shrinking public-private sector pay gap.

Do I hear a few amens?

What's your take? Too harsh an approach? The end of big labour? A quick slide to the bottom for middle class workers?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money

* Follow Gordon on Twitter here.




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...