I don't understand the criticism of the "back to work" order issued today by the Ontario government, with the help of the NDP. I don't see it as anti-union, I see it as a pragmatic response to an untenable position. My view might be somewhat different, if not for the circumstances, but the poor choices here make my view pretty simple.
You go to work Friday night, maybe an office cleaner, whatever. You rely on this service, this is your only means of transportation, for many the only financial alternative. You finish your shift, it's time to go home, but alas, an out of nowhere strike and you are stranded. No notice, no consideration, no sense of responsibility, just "we" reject the offer, we're outta here. The kicker, no picket lines, no union members on the streets decrying the injustices of the man. No, the membership is home safe and sound, while the poor bastard stranded 8 miles from home is SOL.
Most people approach this strike, based on their own philosophical arguments on the relationship between worker and employer. Rights, protection, acknowledgement, power, I know it well, I've seen it first hand, in my younger days. I've always understood the spirit, although the relevance tends to lessen as labor laws entrench rights, new initiatives further tip the pendulum.
My view now is one of pragmatism. When I see what happens at Wal-Mart, I'm 100% pro-union. When I see pretty much unskilled workers making 60 grand, a boom benefit package, all the bells and whistles, working for an employer, the city, which is essentially broke, I tend to be more on the fence. When that union walks out, despite getting, from what I can see, a very progressive package, it makes me think this union has lost touch with reality. If this was a private company, the membership would be facing layoffs, there would be no leverage, because the company is in trouble. But, this isn't the case, because what cities provide, on many levels, aren't private services, but ESSENTIAL services. That's right, the workers have an artificial job security, a built-in protection, because they provide a service which is required, whether profitable or not. With that in mind, some consideration for the people affected, some responsibility should be in order.
You have to balance the rights of the workers, with the rights of citizens to depend on a service which is essential to them. This strike would most affect those without options, those people who least deserve another kick in the teeth, from people, who in reality, are ahead on the food chain. For that reason, I have no qualms with "back to work", the situation wasn't dire, the membership clearly not exploited or treated unfairly (when I look at the package, the first word that comes to mind is SWEET).
I'm a union pragmatist, a case by case stance, appreciating the need, applauding the ideal, but also able to separate a rose from a skunk. This strike, the way it was handled, the posturing, the reckless timing, I have no qualms saying the government and the opposition moved correctly.