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Unions Blast Sask Government Dues Questions

May 6, 2012
CBC News Posted: May 3, 2012 8:03 AM CST
Terry Parker, business manager for the Saskatchewan Building and Construction Trades Council, wasn't impressed with the government's question about union dues. (CBC)
A union leader says Premier Brad Wall is going back on his own word when it comes to union members opting out of paying dues.

Terry Parker, business manager for the Saskatchewan Building and Construction Trades Council, was reacting to a new government "consultation paper" that asks if some unionized workers should be exempt from paying union dues.

Labour Relations Minister Don Morgan said the government hasn't taken a position; it is just raising the question.

But Parker said Saskatchewan Party leader Wall ruled out the idea during last fall's election.

"The Premier actually came back at that time and said that there was no interest by the government to introduce an opting-out legislation if they got elected," Parker said. "Yet now, we're seeing different."

During that campaign, CBC asked the Saskatchewan Party leaderif he would allow workers in unionized workplaces to opt out of unions and union dues.

After some confusion, Wall sent out a clarification on Twitter:

The first part of the tweet said: "Could have been clearer: no opting out of unions or dues."

Dues upheld by courts

The courts in Canada have upheld the right of unions to collect dues from all members although there have been rare exceptions in cases where participating in a union is against a member's religion.

In those cases, the money can be redirected to charity.

The government's consultation paper discusses whether there should also be exemptions granted for people under 18 or for people suffering from financial hardship.

Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, was critical.
"Can you opt out of paying your taxes for reasons of, you know, a hardship? Or you don't want to pay your taxes?" he asked.

The consultation paper reads like a "wish list" for corporate interests, he said.

 

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