Laval University professor Stephen Gordon makes a telling point in a recent column on the state of Canada’s labour unions.
“More than 60 per cent of union members outside Quebec (and 52 per cent in Quebec) work in the public sector,” he writes. “The workforce is becoming increasingly polarized into two groups: non-unionized private-sector workers and unionized public-sector workers. More than five out of every six Canadian workers fall into one of these two categories.”
Gordon’s point is that with unions so heavily concentrated among employees on the public payroll, Canadians may increasingly see them as a force for the entrenched privileges those workers enjoy: guaranteed pensions, generous benefits, superior job protection, etc.
But there’s also this: while unions enjoy portraying themselves as a bulwark of fairness against the pervasive greed of the one per cent, their real target is rarely Canada’s wealthy. The pain of their actions is overwhelmingly inflicted on fellow wage-earners, not the rich.