Would you cross a picket line to work?
Canadians might be tired of three things right now: overcast June days, Roberto Luongo’s road play and any news story involving the word “strike.”
Indeed, at a time when we’re still recovering – and, according to some, bracing for a double-dip recession – the lion’s share of Canucks don’t want to hear what they may consider whining from Canada Post and Air Canada workers, who have both, in a most high-profile way, walked off the job.
So here’s a fun, little discussion to have in light of the work stoppages among two of Canada’s more noteworthy employers: if you needed the pay, would you cross the picket line and act as a replacement worker during a strike?
According to the Globe and Mail, that’s just what’s happening with Air Canada right now. As the airline’s 3,800 customer service employees take to the placards, Air Canada has hired replacement workers to help passengers work self-serve kiosks at various airports.
And, according to Star travel editor Jim Byers, the stand-ins are doing just fine, having helped him zip through check-in despite his deliberate attempts to require assistance.
So what we’re obviously getting at here is this: during a strike, anyone seen crossing a picket line can be perceived as a “scab,” someone bending to the will of corporations and, in many ways, undercutting protesting workers that are trying to prove their worth.
Most notably, such strikebreaking happened during the 1987 NFL season. The players walked off the job, and the NFL brought in replacement players to play games – a collection of nobodies and construction workers and bar bouncers. They were not treated well.
Said Seattle Seahawks replacement tackle Tim Burnham, who walked onto the job at the same time teams made of picket line-crossers were being given condescending nicknames like the San Francisco Phoney Niners, Los Angeles Shams and Seattle Sea-scabs, “It was a good time, but it wasn’t something I’m necessarily proud of. Personally, I came close to not doing it out of respect for the Players Association, and what they were trying to achieve.”
Crossing a picket line, then, may be a sort of political suicide, but here are two facts in Canada right now:
1) Two of the nation’s most notable employers are largely without workers, and
2) Canada’s unemployment rate still stands at 7.4 per cent.
So, if you needed the cash, would you cross a picket line to work if given the chance? Or, would you stand strong with your fellow striking Canadians, even if it meant the loss of a day’s or week’s pay for doing so?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
Posted by: bob | Jun 14, 2021 2:53:59 PM
I'ld say pay the union what their worth but we have a minimum wage law in this country
Posted by: Ellisha | Jun 14, 2021 3:17:30 PM
I'd cross the picket line in a heartbeat. People these days take things for granted but times are hard and lots of people just want to work.
Posted by: Adam | Jun 14, 2021 4:42:10 PM
Oh yeah, I'd cross the picket line. Canada Post workers are screwing themselves, they no longer have a monopoly, and Canadians will use alternative methods to send items. They should be thankful for what they have - supply and demand. If there are unemployed individuals, qualified to do your job, for less money - be careful what you wish for.
Posted by: Daljit | Jun 15, 2021 9:54:43 AM
Oh yes, I will certainly cross the picket line because these unions are crying for nothing. Workers for these companies are already getting paid more than what they deserve for the kind of job they do.
Posted by: jamie | Jun 15, 2021 10:15:05 AM
Of course I'd cross the picket line. Working in an air conditioned, clean, no risk work environment, making a $55,000+ anual salary, while men in a dirty 100 degree sweat shop grinding metal makes just above minimum wage?? What are these people crying for??
Posted by: Steven | Jun 15, 2021 10:18:35 AM
I was unemployed for 9 months. I'm in an industry where the workers are educated and "perceived" to be well paid. No one outside my industry would touch me as they thought I'd bolt the first offer I got to go back. I'd have killed for a Canada Post or Air Canada job.
The fact is union solidarity is a myth. The workers may feel and believe it, but union executives will sell you out if it is in their interest, just like an employer will.
Posted by: Brian Sklar | Jun 15, 2021 10:30:54 AM
When political staff are getting raises in excess of 50% (at least that's the way it is in Saskatchewan) and when CEOs of corporations who got us into this mess in the first place are still getting huge raises and "performance" bonuses, I find it insulting that anyone would come out against the workers. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the company is trying to take away benefits which the employees already have through past negotiations. In addition to that, they are faced with an anti-worker government, led by Stephen Harper, which is about to legislate them back to work. Funny, I thought Air Canada was now a private corporation. What right does the Harper Government have to interfere in a labour dispute involving workers and management at a private corporation? If these people are so essential then they should be paid accordingly and treated with much more respect. As for those who cross picket lines, may you someday be treated like dirt by your boss(es) and enjoy the same level of support you are offering to these people. By the way, Robert Milton, former CEO of Air Canada, received 42 million in 2007. If you want to complain about unfair compensation, that's where you should take aim.
Posted by: anniem | Jun 15, 2021 10:51:27 AM
Absolutely not! The reason we have minimum wage is because people stood up and said no to not being paid fairly. I'm wondering why it is that so many are ready to just walk away from hard won rights when its to the benefit of all to keep them!
I'm unsure how it is that even though we hear reports about the mega raises and obscene salaries of upper management that people are still ready to shyte on those who work in unions. The only way to ensure that more people get the same benefits is to stand strong. And if you don't like your work environment - unionize!
Solidarity isn't a myth. The problem is the way people look at it.
Posted by: Rolly Day | Jun 15, 2021 10:55:58 AM
A member of CUPW is duty bound not to cross the picket line. They are fighting for their benefits. The consequences of crossing the picket line will only be experience after the strike... and it will be very bad.
Posted by: SG | Jun 15, 2021 10:56:59 AM
I would not cross the line, and it would appear so many of you out there would be quick to do so to get that as you say $55K paying job. Well guess what you tool, crossing the line means that job could become a $20K job becuase of uneducated fools like you. People who have earned these jobs still work hard, and they pay into their benfits and retirement. None of it is free. And when a large corporation with extremely well paid executives want to take that away from those workers, you sad pathetic folks take the management side. Who do you think you are? Jealousy issues - yes I believe you have them. Great Post Brian, maybe people who have no clue in these matters can take a look at where the money robbed from workers go. Straight to the top execs. $42M for what? Works out to nearly $4m per month, $2M per pay. When the worker on the top of his/her pay scale brings home about what?? hmm, lets say possibly $1,900... We should be tackling the ridiculous pay scale of management, not the union workers. Not the actual people who bring you people your mail.
For those of you who would cross the line - I hope you never in your life have that same disrespectful arrogant attiude demonstrated to you. So when you eventually lose your home, don't take it out on the overpaid bankers... remember that it was your fault, the bankers need to keep thier high salaries. For all of you out there that would cross a line - you are an absloutley pathetic representation of a Canadian, if you're even an actual Canadian. Dirt is worth more than you disgusting, ignorant and selfish people. Get educated "scabs".
Posted by: Trixie | Jun 15, 2021 10:57:51 AM
I believe everything should just be privatized. Years of watching and learning have taught me that the only thing that works is competition. That's it.
I also strongly agree with the statement made by someone else that "union executives will sell you out as fast as an employer." I have a teenager who works in a unionized company. When anyone (and I DO mean anyone), is complaining, that employee is ALWAYS on their own with that complaint. The union seems to be nowhere to be found. I find that interesting.
As for the comment about CEO's making alot of money. Of course they make alot of money. They own the company. Their life is that company. They are the brains, if you will, they are willing to work very long hours for their company. In effect, it's their "baby." They deserve the money they make. (They are also the ones who must know what to do when something goes wrong.) However, CEO's are also smart enough to know they need their employees, which is why there are many companies, that are NOT unionized, where they ARE making good pay and decent benefits, and the employees get along good with the employer. (There's a concept!)
As for the Postal Workers, I think they should be told to get back to work or be fired and know several ppl who would be quite willing to take their place, if the strikers don't want what is offered.
Posted by: ardvark1 | Jun 15, 2021 11:00:03 AM
while i can sympathize with them, as the old saying goes...timing is everything. we've all just taken a shit kicking from the recent economic meltdown and many people have yet to recover from it and here are these well paid people(many might say overpaid) wanting even more. don't compare this to those fatcat ceo's,cfo's w/e they want to call themselves as that is something our government needs to address....but never will as too many of them owe some business crony some favor or other campaign contributions(which leads to a diferent subject and why i think eliminating public funding for parties is a bad idea....$2 per peson? and people are whining? w/e).
instead of electing a majority out of sheer political confusion and apathy, what canada needs is a good old fashioned revolt to stop it's citizens from being gouged by greedy businesmen, incompetent government and overall naivete of canadians as a whole.
Posted by: Rob | Jun 15, 2021 11:00:14 AM
Absolutely, I would. Perhaps we should step back and look at the bigger pciture here and keep in mind that when this all blows over those folks will go back to work making a very decent wage with benefits most canadians will never have and unless they are complete fools retire very comfortably. So for those who are in need of some employment I say go for it, when you look in the mirror the person looking back is the one you need to take care of first.
Posted by: SG | Jun 15, 2021 11:07:35 AM
Another pathetic statement from Trixie. I am sure you would happily take their job... And don't spew your garbage about a postal manager who needs to be making salaries in the millions. This is a government business. Not "their baby". Oh, and when you complain about the costs of goods and everything else rising, don't feel bad, because all that money is going to those very nice people who own "their baby" and they want more and more and more at your expense... but don't worry, you will contribute to these very fine people and their super excellent leadership skills. Hope you never get an injury that government won't help you with. God what a waste of time you people are.
Posted by: Kiralynn | Jun 15, 2021 11:07:54 AM
No I would not cross. And now with Canada Post locking out all workers, one couldn't cross if they wanted!
Posted by: Kay Smith | Jun 15, 2021 11:09:38 AM
Just a small correction to your article... The people replacing the employees who are on strike at Air Canada are not people who have been hired by Air Canada specifically for this purpose. They are the management of other department. They were employees of Air Canada well before the strike started.
I also love it when people comment on how much the postal workers and the Air Canada employees are complaining for nothing, and that they are overpaid to do easy jobs. Anyone who works for any company would complain if they would be told that from now on, they will get paid 10% less in the future, work more hours, crazier schedules, and oh yes, the nice pension plan you've been contributing to may or may not be there when you are ready to retire. They are not simply fighting to have more benefits and pay, they are fighting not to lose what they already have.
The lack of empathy from people all around the country is simply astounding!
Posted by: SG | Jun 15, 2021 11:10:24 AM
So Rob when you look in the mirror know someon will be gunning for your job you sap. I guess the workers that pay for their benefits, you know, the ones you will never get in your lifetime, they aren't allowed to look into the mirror and take care of themselves. Is that what you are saying you very selfish individual. We have another winner!
Posted by: Lloyd Penner | Jun 15, 2021 11:15:41 AM
There is always a ceo or upper managment person being paid unrealistic sums. This is not related to the issue of the strikes. The overall labor cost for these corporations reduces the ceo salarys to such insignificance in the big picture that it is not worth discussing as far as this argument goes.
If union employees with good paying jobs by any working Canadians standards, want to strike and try for more then "fly at it" But.... if the play doesn't work and you screw yourselves in the end whether it be by losing at the negotiating table or by replacement workers it is the risk you take. Make your play if you must, take your chances if you do and suck it up if it does not work out the way you wanted. I don't need your job but if I did I would cross your lines in a heartbeat as is my right as a Canadian citizen just as much as it is your right to try for more money from you employer.
Posted by: Rob | Jun 15, 2021 11:42:17 AM
SG, it is very obvious you have missed the boat completely on this one.No that is not what I am saying at all. I strongly suggest that those workers you have referred to DO take a long hard look in the mirror and while they are at it take a look at their neighbor across the street with no job and a family to feed but is willing to take a huge step down from his previous job just to make ends meet. Like I said when this is all over the posties will go back to a decent wage and admirable benefits. Again you missed the point completely. Oh look we have another loser folks!
Good luck SG, it appears you're going to need it!
Posted by: Rob | Jun 15, 2021 12:22:22 PM
As a CUPW member I respect the stand (although don't always agree) the union takes. I would not cross a picket line, which would show a severe lack of respect for others beliefs and principles.
That being said, there is nothing that cannot be negotiated in a civil reasonable manner.