Monday, January 05, 2009

People are morons.

I've decided to try out resigned bemusement rather than vigorous outrage over this sort of thing. But, over here, you can find the results of a CP24 poll on whether the province should force binding arbitration to end the York U strike. 59% of respondents said "yes" to breaking international agreements and violating basic rights of ordinary folks in order to benefit the wealthy and powerful.

See, this is why democracy is a great theory, but just doesn't work in the real world.

Edit January 6, 9:49pm: Comments closed due to ongoing idiocy. Honestly, what is with people who can't tell the difference between denying something and actually structuring an argument?

14 comments:

KC said...

Huh? So struggling students and middle class taxpayers are the "wealthy and powerful" and strikers wanting a big raise in the midst of a recession are the "ordinary people"?

I'd also be curious as to what "international agreements" the Province of Ontario is party to which would prohibit the imposition of binding arbitration.

Its time that public service unions share in the hard times that everyone else who makes their living in the private sector are facing. Public service unions shouldnt be able to hide behind a "right" to collective bargaining to extort the public during hard time. This isnt about justice. Its about rent seeking and nothing more.

ADHR said...

Several things you're missing....

First, struggling students and middle-class taxpayers are in CUPE 3903. They are not in the University administration nor the provincial government.

Second, strikers don't want a "big raise". Teaching stream appointments (a fraction of members of Unit 2) have been offered, currently, a $10,000/year raise. That's the biggest dollar increase there is, and it's still less than was received by the members of the University bargaining team this year. Most of the other "big raises" that the University talks about are actually the result of indexing benefits funds to people drawing from them. In other words, they're lying: they're lumping together any possible increase in the cost of the contract and calling it a "raise".

Third, recessions affect different sectors differently. There is no indication that this recession, if there actually is one (no one seems to be in agreement here), will negatively affect the university nor its funding. Besides, what's wrong with asking for a raise? Or do you think everyone should just blindly accept every condition of employment?

Fourth, back-to-work legislation violates Canada's obligations under the International Labour Organization's Convention 87 (which Canada ratified in 1972), which states that public authorities are not to interfere with the right to organize in a labour union; it also violates the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23), which clearly states that all workers have a right to just and favourable conditions of work and to form and to join trade unions for the protection of their interests. And I've got a labour lawyer on my side on this, over here.

Fifth, the idea that dragging public sector unions down to private sector levels will help anyone is farcical and born of no more than jealousy.

Sixth, there is no extortion involved here. Extortion only occurs when there is unlawful extraction of money (or other goods) from one person by another via coercion. Strikes, however, are lawful. Extortion thus does not occur. Furthermore, back-to-work orders are clearly coercive (in a way that strikes are not) and would, arguably, deprive CUPE 3903 members of benefits and wages they otherwise would have obtained. Which suggests that there's a better case to be made for calling back-to-work orders extortion, rather than strikes.

ADHR said...

Knew I'd find it after I replied. Here's the current wage demands, to deal with the "big raise" accusation.

Unit 1 (TAs): $2400/year, amounting thus to $200/month before taxes. TAs currently make ~$17,000/year.

Unit 3 (GAs): $2000/year, amounting thus to ~$167/month before taxes. GAs currently make $10,000/year.

Plus 4% per year for two years (or cost-of-living adjustment in the second year of the contract, if higher than 4%). 4% of $19,400 is $776 -- so, that works out to an additional $65/month, before taxes.

Unit 2 (contract faculty): negotiations are intense on terms, but the current demand is $70,000 for teaching 3.5 courses (a "course" in this sense is two semesters long) per year (tentatively settled upon during the current negotiations), with a five-year long-term contract. This is about $15,000 per year more than the standard per-course rate for teaching this number of courses.

So, again, the big-dollar raise is with contract faculty, who do most of the teaching at York. TAs and GAs are getting very little.

The food guy said...

Whatever... international agreements and conventions rarely have any actual teeth in domestic law. Sure, it may cause a verbal smackdown from the international body that administers it and the various special interest groups who benefits from the convention being enforced. But usually they never have any actual legal force and it would get thrown out in the Canadian courts, if no domestic law implementing the specific terms of the international convention was ever passed, or if a domestic law that specifically supersedes the international one was passed.

If your example was true ("back-to-work legislation violates Canada's obligations under the International Labour Organization's Convention 87"), how come no union that I know of has ever gone to court to say the back to work legislation was illegal or a Canadian court has never thrown one out. The lawyer you mentioned in your link as a reference even says that - the ILO has no actual power other than issuing a "complaint". The average Canadian voter on the street could probably care less what the ILO thinks.

ADHR said...

Wow... that's impressive. You moved the goalposts, missed that you'd moved them, and you think you have a counter-argument to anything I said. Well done.

In slow motion:

You said that domestic laws are all that has "actual legal force", and there are no domestic laws following the ILO Convention.

Then you said that if there were obligations under the ILO Convention, then a Canadian court would have ruled in favour of some union or another.

You can't hold both of these simultaneously, and you don't even see it. You entertain me, food guy.

Not to mention, of course, that I was replying to KC who explicitly questioned what international obligations there were; and that international law is real law; and so on and so forth. I can't be bothered to pick apart all your errors.

Nice non sequitur at the end, incidentally. Who was talking about "average Canadian voters on the street", anyway? And where is your polling data indicating what they actually think (rather than what you imagine they think)?

The food guy said...

"Then you said that if there were obligations under the ILO Convention, then a Canadian court would have ruled in favour of some union or another."

Huh, where'd I say that? Re-read what I wrote again, maybe I wrote the sentence badly.

"Nice non sequitur at the end, incidentally. Who was talking about "average Canadian voters on the street", anyway? And where is your polling data indicating what they actually think (rather than what you imagine they think)?"

I was just making the point that the Ontario government has no political capital to lose if the back to work legislation passed. They certainly didn't lose any when the TTC employees were ordered back last year, nor will the feds lose any political capital if the OC Transpo employees are next week. As well, in the past, Canada (or various provinces) has been ruled by UN organizations to be in violation of various international conventions over the years - they had been ignored by the government (and party in power) impacted and it didn't change the political game one way or the other.

ADHR said...

You said: "If your example was true ('back-to-work legislation violates Canada's obligations under the International Labour Organization's Convention 87'), how come no union that I know of has ever gone to court to say the back to work legislation was illegal or a Canadian court has never thrown one out." How does my interpretation differ? I'm not seeing it. You seem to be saying as I put it: that if there were "real" legal obligations under the ILO Convention, then there would have been a domestic court case.

I take the point about political capital, but it's important to see that there's a downside to picking a fight with organized labour at this point in time. First, the NDP would make the Liberals earn it in the legislature (possibly with a filibuster). Second, the government has other problems to deal with that involve labour, namely those involving the auto sector. Antagonizing labour is not a good plan right now. Third, this is really a small problem. You'd be stretching to get more than 100,000 people affected (as opposed to the TTC strike, which easily affected millions). It doesn't make sense to spend political capital on small problems when there are big problems to be addressed.

The food guy said...

Hmmm.... seems clear when I read it again. What I was saying is that:

No union that I know of has ever successfully gone to court to say that back to work legislation was illegal, and a Canadian court has never thrown out back to work legislation based on ILO 87.

When countries sign conventions (such as ILO 87), if no domestic law(s) implementing the specific terms of the conventions are ever passed, there is no domestic legal obligation to enforce such terms.

KC said...

First, struggling students and middle-class taxpayers are in CUPE 3903. They are not in the University administration nor the provincial government.

There are also many who are not who have to foot the bill for increased wages. University admin and the provincial government dont pay the salaries. Taxpayers and students do.


Second, strikers don't want a "big raise"...

When the economy of the province is contracting, rather than growing, ANY raise is too big.

Third, recessions affect different sectors differently. There is no indication that this recession, if there actually is one (no one seems to be in agreement here), will negatively affect the university nor its funding.

Universities arent an "industry". They are a public service funded by taxpayers, students and to a lesser extent donors. When the economy contracts, government coffers shrink, trust funds that fund universities shrink, and students have a tougher time finding jobs. That is what pays for Universities.

And there is no dispute that the Province of Ontario is in a recession.

Besides, what's wrong with asking for a raise? Or do you think everyone should just blindly accept every condition of employment?

It has always been my view that public sector wages should be largely tied to economic growth. Raises while times are good, pay cuts when they are bad.

Fourth, back-to-work legislation violates Canada's obligations under...

Canada's ability to bind provincial governments with international law is subject to some constitutional debate.

Fifth, the idea that dragging public sector unions down to private sector levels will help anyone is farcical and born of no more than jealousy.

Jealousy? You're accusing the people who are FORCED to pay YOUR wages with their taxes of "no more than jealousy? That is the public sector sense of entitlement that drives people bonkers.

Sixth, there is no extortion involved here. Extortion only occurs when there is unlawful extraction of money (or other goods) from one person by another via coercion. Strikes, however, are lawful. Extortion thus does not occur.

A strike after back to work legislation is not lawful. Thats why its called "back to work legislation".

Furthermore, back-to-work orders are clearly coercive (in a way that strikes are not) and would, arguably, deprive CUPE 3903 members of benefits and wages they otherwise would have obtained. Which suggests that there's a better case to be made for calling back-to-work orders extortion, rather than strikes.

No one would be coerced. You can always quit your job.

the rest

Wow thanks for the stats. Now I feel even more confident in my view that these wage demands are obscene. 15-20+% in the midst of a recession? Wow. Thats outrageous. I'd be pretty pissed as a regular Ontario wage earner having to pony up for that. I was a TA at an Ontario University and it was the best money I ever made until I graduated law school.

ADHR said...

food guy,

So, you were repeating your point that there is no domestic legal obligation?

KC,

Oh, honestly.

There are also many who are not who have to foot the bill for increased wages. University admin and the provincial government dont pay the salaries. Taxpayers and students do.

Tuition is going up the maximum allowable, guaranteed. That's already been announced by the York admin. Provincial transfers to universities aren't going to go up any time soon (nothing indicates the government is going to increase monies). So, the university will have to look for other ways to raise money! Shocking! Maybe the administrators can give themselves a paycut to pay for front-line teaching staff! What a stunning idea!

Maybe they can run a deficit for a few years and pay it down when the economy's doing a little better.

When the economy of the province is contracting, rather than growing, ANY raise is too big.

And if wishes were fishes, we'd be drowning in perch. So? Stipulative definition isn't worth taking seriously.

Hey, I think lawyers should volunteer to take paycuts as the economy of the province is contracting. I suspect you take that view as seriously as I take yours.

Universities arent an "industry". They are a public service funded by taxpayers, students and to a lesser extent donors. When the economy contracts, government coffers shrink, trust funds that fund universities shrink, and students have a tougher time finding jobs. That is what pays for Universities.

You don't know what funds universities, clearly. You've missed, for example, the endowment funds.

The idea that universities are a public service and not an industry has to be a joke. (The idea that there's a difference here is an even greater joke.) And, to make things worst (no typo), I used the word "sector" not "industry".

And there is no dispute that the Province of Ontario is in a recession.

Has there been two consecutive quarters of negative growth?

It has always been my view that public sector wages should be largely tied to economic growth. Raises while times are good, pay cuts when they are bad.

Good for you. So? Why should anyone else take that view seriously? After all, what you're claiming is that the public sector should suffer for problems which they may not have caused. Very fair, very equitable.

Canada's ability to bind provincial governments with international law is subject to some constitutional debate.

Links/references or I call bullshit. Besides, my claim was that there is a violation of international law in play here. You've conceded that, and now you're trying to weasel the province out from under that obligation.

So, here's another argument, which is not subject to those problems. Freedom of association is guaranteed by the Charter, and it binds the provinces. Plausibly, freedom of association includes the freedom to enter into groups such as unions, and insist that other groups one associates with -- employers -- deal with the union rather than the individuals. It's a basic principle of Anglo-American law that people own their own labour, in the sense that they can deploy it or refrain from deploying it at will. If a group of people -- like a union -- thus choose to withdraw their labour, then they can do so. Thus, the legality of strikes: the right to strike, in fact.

Now, on the basis of what can the province intervene in a strike without violating the right to strike? This just can't be done.

Jealousy? You're accusing the people who are FORCED to pay YOUR wages with their taxes of "no more than jealousy? That is the public sector sense of entitlement that drives people bonkers.

And that's the private sector jealousy that drives people bonkers. (I find your ability to read others' minds intriguing; are you similarly intrigued by mine?)

Entitlement means the thing(s) that you deserve. You seem to think that the desert of public sector members to decent pay and benefits hinges on broader conditions than anything they can possibly control. This is just defining "desert" in such a way that no one can possibly deserve anything. There is no justification on hand for keeping the public sector as de facto peasants, unable to protest their working conditions, undeserving of anything beyond what is arbitrarily doled out.

You did know feudalism was dead, right?

I just find this so funny. You're whining -- and it is whining -- about being forced to pay taxes for (in your view) public services -- and you have no problem with forcing people to work to provide those services.

A strike after back to work legislation is not lawful. Thats why its called "back to work legislation".

Wow. Where did you go to law school? That's fairly sad.

The province has the power to declare the strike at an end, and to order the parties to binding arbitration or to impose a contract. Granted. However, to say that makes continued strike activity "unlawful" is to skip the important role played by the courts. Strike activity remains lawful (or, at least, not obviously unlawful) unless there's a court order enforcing the legislation. Only courts can decide that certain conduct is not lawful. That's what they do. The legislature defines the parameters within which those determinations are made. So, to say that any legislation makes certain specific activities unlawful is false.

No one would be coerced. You can always quit your job.

You can always not pay your taxes. (Incidentally, I don't work for York. Way to pick up on that one.)

What is the logic here, anyway? (I know you don't have any; that much is obvious from the progressively more desperate tone this is taking. I'm asking a rhetorical question.) Some folks don't like their working conditions, so they ask for improvements. The employer refuses. The workers withdraw their labour. And then idiots walk in, demand the government force these people to work -- and that's supposed to be okay because they can always quit? Well, heck, let's get rid of the police! They cost too damn much and, if you're being robbed at gunpoint, you can always choose to get shot! And y'know what bothers me? Black folks working. Why are black people allowed to work? Let's make black people into property again. Heck, if they don't like it, they can always shoot themselves. That makes it okay... right?

Wow thanks for the stats. Now I feel even more confident in my view that these wage demands are obscene.

You think any raise is "obscene" in a recession, so why do you think I'd take this seriously?

15-20+% in the midst of a recession? Wow. Thats outrageous.

Oh, goodness, are you really playing this tired old game? In real-dollar terms, the increases are tiny. You know that. I know that. You don't have the courage to admit it, so you start quoting percentages as if that's the fair measure. Bizarre. Can you even try to justify percentages as the fair measure?

I'd be pretty pissed as a regular Ontario wage earner having to pony up for that.

Ah, the mythical regular Ontario wage earner who wants everyone else to suffer just like him. If you're a lawyer, I suspect you're doing just fine, which suggests that you are one of the powerful few taking shots at the powerless masses. But, suppose you're not. As I noted above, nothing indicates the province is giving one more dime to the universities. So, any contract negotiated has to be paid for based on the current levels of provincial transfers. Which means you don't pay anything more at all. Unless, y'know, you want to.

I was a TA at an Ontario University and it was the best money I ever made until I graduated law school.

How many years ago? What university? How many scholarships did you get? What was the cost of living? And so on, and so forth. I really don't care about your personal anecdotes (no more than you would care about mine); and their argumentative value is zero. What you were willing to deal with is clearly not what the current members of CUPE 3903 are willing to deal with (assuming they are comparable, which I can't tell, as you haven't given any details here). That's the important point: people who aren't you get to make choices that you wouldn't make.

It's called "freedom".

You call yourself a Liberal. You should know what freedom is.

(Just FYI, KC, I always reserve the right to refuse any comments to this blog. So try to make the next one pretty substantive, if you choose to reply. 'Kay?)

ADHR said...

Hey, KC,

Yeah, about that "substantive" thing? You fail. If you want to rant, do it on your own (currently blank) blog.

ADHR said...

Hey, KC,

Double fail! Going to go for the triple?

Here's a hint: if you can muster an argument -- not just a disjointed series of accusations -- for a position, I'll approve the comment. Otherwise, I won't.

So, go on. Rant some more; amuse me. Or, exert yourself to try to have a rational discussion. It makes no difference to me, but it might help your blood pressure.

KC said...

Whatever. I spent a good chunk of time rebutting you on a point by point basis and I wont make the mistake of wasting that time again just to have you deem it not rational. You can use your pulpit (with all ~11,000 hits... WOW!) to call my argument disjointed and yours great blah blah blah, but it doesnt make it so.

There really is no point in arguing with someone with a vested interest anyway. You want more money and you have the power to extort the students of York and the taxpayers of Ontario (for now); and thats about all their really is to it. No grand principle or well argued reason. Just pure, naked self-interest, and the ability to control dissenting opinions on your blog.

You must be proud big guy.

ADHR said...

Comments are closed after this one, so, please, feel free to fuck off.

You rebutted nothing. You denied many things, but you didn't argue against anything. (If you don't see the distinction, then that's part of the problem.) You also failed to discuss points you clearly either didn't understand or didn't know how to address (for example, the autonomy argument above). I thought this was due to carelessness, but I now suppose it's due to lack of ability.

As said previously, I don't work for York. At all. Students and taxpayers will not pay any more for anything. I explained that, you ignored it -- again, I can only conclude you either don't understand or don't know how to handle views that extend outside your own. In any event, the claim that there's some self-interest of mine involved, when you continue to baselessly complain about "increased taxes", is farcical.

What I see here is someone who doesn't know how to deal with people who don't believe what he believes. You don't know how to argue at all. You don't know how to engage in a rational, civil debate. You can't follow a chain of reasoning, and you can't reply to one that's presented to you.

And, I don't really care about my hit counter. I'm not sure why you do. Perplexing. Shouldn't you be worried about your own hit counter, if anyone's?