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Event Update: Negotiations Division Speakers Series

Peter Graefe, “The Conservatives, their Backers, Unions and the Future of Federal Politics”

On Tuesday, September 11th members, staff, and elected officials of the Institute were treated to a fascinating lecture by Prof. Peter Graefe of McMaster University, Hamilton. Prof. Graefe gave attendees an overview of recent developments in federal politics and an explanation for the venomous attack on public sector employees.

Prof. Graefe spoke about the strategy of the Canadian corporate sector as being to “rip it and ship it”, meaning that business was looking to export natural resources in as great volume and as quickly as possible. This strategy did not have the same potential for creating a large number of high-paying jobs as a value-adding manufacturing sector would create. The high dollar that is a result of commodity exports has been another major challenge for Canadian manufacturers.

In this context, private sector wages have been severely depressed, and the only raise that workers get is an increase in take home pay through tax cuts. Public sector employees need to think about how to explain the fact that tax cuts that lead to public service cuts do not benefit Canadians on the final balance sheet.

Prof. Graefe left the audience with some suggestions for a strategy for public sector unions and their members:

1. Make allies with all possible partners in organizing the fightback strategy

2. Choose our language carefully. This government is engaged in a ‘war on reason’. Many Canadians do not approve of this path

3. Think about how to rebuild public goods and their provision for the 21st century, harness the creativity of our members to build these visions.

4. Need to work together with private sector unions and actors, as raising private sector wages is key to protecting the benefits and wages of all Canadians.

It was a very stimulating talk and discussion, enjoyed by all who attended. If you are in the Ottawa area, consider attending our next speaker in the series:

Prof. Michelle Weber, Brock University
She will talk about professional employees unions and how they have organized themselves to respond to the recent rounds of public sector cuts.

Tentative Date: November 6, 2012 at 12noon-1:00pm
Location: Salon A+B, Michelle Demers Conference Centre, PIPSC National Office


Publish Date: 28-SEP-2012 01:30 PM