So let me see if I have this right.
When workers are at their most vulnerable—when, for example, they’ve decided to join a union and are attempting to negotiate a first contract with a more powerful, perhaps hostile employer—Jamie Baillie is a champion of free collective bargaining. Let the chips fall where they may… so long as they fall the way of Michelin and Sobeys.
On the other hand, when workers have some leverage—when, to pick another example out of the ether, transit workers vote 98.4 per cent to stop driving their buses to put pressure on the employer to negotiate better terms—Jamie Baillie thinks collective bargaining is a crock and wants the premier to legislate them back to work. Immediately.
At least the Tory leader is consistent in his inconsistency.
When given the choice, Baillie will inevitably come down on the side of the over-dog.
Baillie doesn’t put it that way, of course. “I’m a believer in collective bargaining,” he declared disingenuously Friday.
Baillie’s idea of collective bargaining? The premier should lock both sides in his office, “tell them they’ve got 12 hours to work out their differences and if they’re not able to do so, then he’ll settle it himself.”
How would Baillie settle it? While he doesn’t offer specifics—three guesses on which side he would pick as premier—Baillie did say he wants the province to consider declaring transit an essential service so future collective bargaining could be rendered meaningless.
He’s a “believer” all right.
I will confess I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong in the current strike—or if the answer to that question can be one or the other.
But I do know both sides are under enormous pressure to find a settlement. Union members face the daunting prospect of buying groceries and paying mortgages on meagre strike pay. Management has to know that if the strike drags on it risks a permanent loss of riders to carpooling, biking and walking.
There may come a time when legislation is necessary. But not yet. Let the two sides bargain collectively. Without meddling from “believers” like Baillie.