June 17, 1948

CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Mr. Chairman. I wish to move the same amendment to this clause that I moved when the bill was before the industrial relations committee. I have had a sufficient number of copies of the amendment mimeographed for distribution among the members, so that they will have its' terms before them.

May I say at the outset that I understand this amendment is still being considered by the Minister of Labour, and also by the Minister of Transport because of the interest of the railways in its provisions. Therefore I would request, if it is agreeable to the committee, that clause 4 stand until this afternoon so that my amendment may be looked into further. The Minister of Transport intimated to me this morning that he might like to move a subamendment, and it happens to be a subamendment I woidd be prepared to accept. In other words, Mr. Chairman, without attempting to argue the case just' now, I shall move the amendment and have it distributed amongst the members. My suggestion then is that the clause stand until this afternoon or some other time convenient to the minister.

I move, seconded by the hon. member for Vancouver East:

That section 4, subsection 2(b) be amended by changing the period after the word "Act" to a comma, and adding thereafter the following words:

and without restricting the genenlity of the foregoing, no employer shall deny to any employee any pension rights or benefits to which lie would otherwise be entitled by reason only

of his ceasing to work as the result of a lockout or strike or by reason only of dismissal contrary to this act.

I would be prepared, Mr. Chairman, to proceed with my argument, but I think you will recognize from what I have said that it would perhaps be better to let the clause stand until the afternoon.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

I think that would meet the wishes of the committee. I would point out to the members that in committee a seconder of an amendment is not required.

At one o'clock the committee took recess.

The committee resumed at three o'clock.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

Mr. Chairman, the

Minister of Labour has informed me that my amendment to section 4, subsection 2 (b), is still being studied. I understand that the Minister of Transport is also giving it further consideration, and the suggestion has been made to me that the clause might be allowed to stand until later in the day'. If the committee so wishes, that is acceptable to me, and I will reserve anything I have to say until the question is again before the committee.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

Is it the wish of the committee that clause 4 stand for the time being?

Section stands.

Section 5 agreed to.

On section 6-Collective agreement conditions allowed.

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

Perhaps 1 should read the amendment that was agreed upon by the committee when the bill was before it. It was to add to section 6 a subsection 3, reading as follows:

Upon request of a trade union entitled to bargain collectively under this act on behalf of a unit of employees and upon receipt of a request in writing signed by any employee in such unit, the employer of such employee shall, until the employee in writing withdraws such request, periodically deduct and pay out of the_ wages due to such employee, to the person designated by the trade union to receive the same, the union dues of such employee; and the employer shall furnish to such trade union the names of the employees who have given and withdrawn such authority.

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LIB
LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

It has been moved by Mr. Little that section 6 be amended by striking out subsection 3 thereof

/ndust rial Rclations

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LIB

David Arnold Croll

Liberal

Mr. CROLL:

Mr. Chairman, I gather that the amendment, coming from a private member, will give us an opportunity to have a free vote on this resolution. I am glad to know as a matter of fact that the committee will have that opportunity, but there are a great number of hon. members here who were not on the committee, and perhaps those of us who were there will give a few words of explanation.

The clause as read by the chairman is what is commonly known as the voluntary revocable check-off. It means nothing more than that the employer collects union dues, which the employee voluntarily asks him to do, the employee having the right to revoke it at any time he likes. There is no hardship on the employer. It does not interfere with any of the rights of the employer, be they managerial or otherwise, nor does it interfere with any of the rights that belong to the general public. It is a voluntary act on the part of the employee, and all it requires is a mechanical act by someone in the office to check it off in the same way that all office staffs now collect income tax deductions, unemployment insurance deductions, perhaps deductions for Red Cross and even for payroll savings of some sort.

If there is a hardship as a result of this clause it can only be on the employee. He is the one who pays the shot, and he is the one who is asking for it. All it does in effect is to give the unions the merest and barest measure of union security, and the purpose of it is to maintain the strength and integrity of the union.

I am sure the committee will agree with me that a responsible employer should welcome a responsible union. As a matter of fact, in a great number of collective agreements they have the check-off. But there are some who refuse to give it to their employees, for some reason or other, and those who deny it do so,

I think, with the view that they will keep the union weak, because the inability of the union to obtain enough money in order to carry out administration leads to a weak and struggling union. I think the committee will agree with me that it increases the number and the bitterness of conflicts arising in labour-management relations.

We have seen in the past that unions do not starve very easily. They are used to austerity; consequently it never succeeds. Nevertheless the refusal of the employer to be a help to the union leads to difficulties. I call the attention of the committee to a statement made by Mr. Justice Rand in the famous Ford motor case:

I consider it entirely equitable that all employees should be required to shoulder their [The Deputy Chairman.]

portion of the burden of expense for adininister-mg the lan of their employment, the union contract, that they must take the burden along with the benefits.

I am not suggesting that we go that far, although Mr. Justice Rand's decision was hailed as a most progressive one, and it has brought us peace in the automobile industry.

This resolution does not suggest that we go that far. It does not suggest that anyone who is not a member of the trade union should contribute. What it says in effect is that when those who are members make the request of the employer, the employer shall comply with it. I think the request is a simple one. Labour lias not only earned it but deserves it. For a long time they have asked for union security. I think labour relations in this country will improve as we meet labour at least half way.

Mr. Sib; CLAIR: I should like to say a few words in support of this amendment. The hon. member for Spadina has clearly explained why the committee on industrial relations supported his amendment when it was placed before them. My own feeling is that there should be no reason for the committee not adopting an amendment, which, as he has pointed out, involves no hardship on the employer and merely facilitates the collection by the union of union dues. " The British Columbia labour code, 1947, includes such a clause, and the deduction is regarded merely as an assignment of wages, which it is in essence, as the hon. member for Spadina pointed out. This government uses exactly the same principle in collecting unemployment. insurance, workmen's compensation, and income tax from all employees.

I would not support here the compulsory or irrevocable check-off. But all this amendment means is that if an employee, in writing, tells his employer that he wishes his union dues deducted at the source by the employer, then the employer must do it, the employee still having the right, by similar written notice, to revoke that check-off. Therefore, both as a member of the industrial relations committee and as a British Columbia member supporting similar legislation in my own province, I would urge this committee to support the hon. member's amendment.

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LIB
PC

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Progressive Conservative

Mr. HOMUTH:

Before the minister proceeds, I think it ought to be made clear that the amendment we are discussing is the amendment moved by the hon. member for Timiskaming. The hon. member who just sat down is talking about an amendment which is actually part of the act.

Industrial Relations

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LIB

William Henry Golding (Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Liberal

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN:

The amendment before the committee is the one moved by the hon. member for Timiskaming.

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CCF

Stanley Howard Knowles (Whip of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation)

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. KNOWLES:

The double negative

again.

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I said a great deal about this matter when it was in committee, and I am frank to admit that there is a fundamental difference of opinion as to what a collective bargaining agreement is and what it is not. As I said in the committee, I take the British view. I am frank about that. I was raised in the school in which the union officers collected the dues. They had the contact between the officers or the stewards and the men. I think that is the proper way. I do not believe that a provision which comes within the purview of collective bargaining should be written into an act of parliament. I think that approach is fundamental.

I intend to take the long view. I know that at the moment a great deal of confusion exists in the world. It is seen in France, in the United States, in Great Britain, and to a much larger extent in Australia and in other countries. I do not think there is any substitution for people sitting around the table and negotiating an agreement. It has been stated that the check-off exists in some industries in this country. I have no objection to the checkoff as such. I have no objection to a trade union agreement fashioned and negotiated by men sitting around a table. But as I pointed out early in the committee proceeedings, this biff is intended' to go down the middle of the road. It is based on the principle of conciliation.

We have witnessed what has happened in the United States, and I offer no criticism of what has happened there. It is a free country, under the two party system, where you get the ebb and flow of opinion on national affairs. The Wagner Act was passed in that country. Let me point out to my trade union friends, and more particularly to those who have had experience in these matters, that some in the United States thought the Wagner Act was a swing too far to the left. Then, by the turn of the wheel-I think it was the hon. member for Calgary West who used' that phrase in the committee-they got the Taft-Hartley measure. I well know the position taken by the hon. member for Calgary West.

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PC
LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

As he has a perfect right to do. But in the United States you have a change in the complexion of congress and the senate. Today you have the Taft-Hartley

measure which a great many people must, by the very nature of things, feel is sound legislation in that country. I remember discussing that legislation with some of the higher ranking officials of the American Federation of Labor. After the president had vetoed the bill, they thought it wmuld not get the necessary majority-I forget whether it is two-thirds that is required^in the congress and senate. I said this to them. Most men are activated by the opinions of the people back home. I ask the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre if that is not what motivates him. Is it not the fact that you want to continue on, that you want to be a member of congress, or the senate, or of this House of Commons from now on?

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?

An hon. MEMBER:

Why?

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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

"Pourquoi pas," as they say in French. I sometimes wonder myself. But hon. members have seen what happened in the United States. Many of the cherished things enjoyed by labour organizations have been outlawed under the provisions of recent legislation. This bill does not interfere one iota with collective bargaining between employers and employees. If they want a closed shop, they can have a closed shop, tinder the Taft-Hartley legislation they cannot have it. In Canada there are industries which have had the closed shop for over fifty years because both employers and employees believed it was in the best interests of the industry. I am speaking now of the construction industry. What I am fearful of is that with the swing of the pendulum you might get a government which would go much farther to the left than this government, or the opposition, or even my good friends of the C.C.F. On the other hand you may get a government which swings much farther to the right, and which will take away from the labour organizations conditions which have existed in this country for a good many years. That is why I say that the soundest approach to this problem is through negotiation. You start off with legislating for the check-off. You legislate in connection with wages and other working conditions. That has happened in other countries, as I said in the committee.

I was in Germany at the time of the revolution when Hitler obtained power. At that time Germany had the most powerful trade union movement in the history of the world. But. it was so interwoven with the state that when Hitler got. his fingers on the strings, neither the trade unions nor the employers were free agents. They were merely servants of the state. I should like to see our people

Industrial Relations

sit down as free men and bargain collectively, predicated on responsibility.

It has been said, and truthfully, that some employers have made it difficult for trade unions; but let me say that it cuts both ways. I am sjreaking as a trade unionist. Some trade unions have made it difficult for decent employers. Let us be fair about it. In our approach to this problem we cannot have one law for the rich and a different one for the poor, dealing with the same subject. If we do we are in for trouble. I think that is what is fundamentally wrong with the legislation in the United States. That is what was fundamentally wrong with the Wagner Act. You see the disputes with the typographical union in Chicago and in many other cities of the United States, where legislation has deprived that responsible organization of conditions that it has enjoyed for years, and of some conditions which they have enjoyed for a century in some centres in that country. Therefore I say, Mr. Chairman, I would rather see in our federal jurisdiction the railroad labour organizations sit down with the companies and fashion an instrument predicated on this bill, if you like, having due regard for the difficulties of that widespread organization.

The hon. member for Cape Breton South comes from a tightly-knit organization, the miners' organization, where conditions are comparatively easy. There are not many companies; they all live in the same locality.

I am frank to admit that I do not know too much about the details of the railroad industry in this country. I know it in a broad and general way. Speaking from memory, I think there are twenty-eight different organizations involved. All these different organizations collect dues in many localities. Do not forget that they have enjoyed relations with these companies down through the years not excelled by any other labour organization in this country. What has it been due to? It has been because of the ability to see the other fellow's point of view. I think that is a sound approach.

This afternoon one hon. member referred to the Rand formula. How did the Rand formula come about? It came about through the appointment of Mr. Justice Rand as a commissioner. I played some part in the final conclusions of that dispute. In essence it was straight collective bargaining. Mr. Justice Rand's findings were not compulsory, but they were agreed to by both parties to the dispute. That is the proper approach. I am offering no criticism of the Rand formula, but I question very much, outside of the check-off provisions in that formula, whether many trade unions of this country wish to go the

full length of the implications and applications of that formula, taking the long point of view.

I do not think there is much more I need to say. I like to see meetings such as we have in my organization where everybody turns up and pays his dues. We had good meetings. If they did not turn up to pay their dues the stewards collected them. I know some of the implications when that does not have to be done. I agree with the hon. member for Spadina that i't makes it easy for the trade union organization, but taking the long view-and I say this sincerely on the basis of principle itself-I think it is in the best interests of the trade unions themselves, and I think my prediction will be borne out in the light of experience, that they do the work themselves and not let somebody else do it for them.

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CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

I am glad to see that we have a fairly well filled house. It is unfortunate to have this discussion take place at this time. The industrial relations committee gave a lot of thought, and had a lot of discussion on this particular subject. The minister used the same arguments in the committee that he is using in the house today. Nevertheless, by a majority vote of the committee the provision for a check-off was written into the bill. It surprised me this afternoon to have a private member on the government benches move for the deletion of a clause in the bill which was put there after a lot of consideration. Had it come from the minister I would have thought it was the government's intention to have it removed, but since a private member moved it, I am assuming 'that every member on that side of the house will be able to cast his vote freely without being influenced by the cabinet statement made by the minister.

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LIB
CCF

Clarence Gillis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. GILLIS:

Perhaps that will happen. I hope that the assumption of the hon. member for Spadina and of myself is correct, namely, that it merely comes from one private member who perhaps is not as well informed on the subject as he should be.

We are attempting to lay down a national labour code. The objective of that code is to bring uniformity in labour relations between province and province. It is a start, and a good one. But if we remove the clause that we are now discussing, it will make it impossible for provinces such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to come within the scope of this national code, if the government

Industrial Relations

wish to hand jurisdiction in labour relations over to the provinces; because each of the provinces that I have mentioned has a trade union act, and the check-off provision is written into every one of those acts. In many cases it was not written into those acts with the good will of the employers. It was fought for. The general public of the provinces that I have mentioned are convinced that the principle which we are attempting to lay down in this national code is a good one. I do not think that the governments in the provinces-I am reasonably sure of Nova Scotia- or the general public would want this provision removed. We are defeating the purpose of a national code if we make it impossible for the provinces I have mentioned to come in.

The minister made the statement that in his own union the shop steward collects the dues. That is understandable. Where you have a plant with a small craft union, and the shop steward has forty or fifty men in the shop with him, it is a simple matter to pick up the dues from them. It is not so simple in mass industries. In the gold and nickel mines, the coal mines, and the steel plants, where the unions are organized on an industrial basis, and where you have perhaps four, five or six men administering the affairs of the union, it is impossible to collect dues in that way.

I know that, because we tried it. For years we had the check-off in our agreement in Nova Scotia with the mine workers. In 1932 we thought, we would try collecting dues, and we discontinued the check-off by referendum of our membership. We tried that for two years. It is absolutely impossible for union officials in a mass industry to administer the affairs of the organization by picking up the dues individually. It just cannot be done. By a referendum vote we restored the check-off.

In the organization of the steelworkers for example, I know that for years the steelworkers in Sydney tried to form a collective bargaining organization. This was before the provision for collecting dues was written into the trade union act of Nova Scotia. It never succeeded until that provision was written in. Then the membership put their cards in, and their dues were collected.

What we have to remember is what the hon. member for Spadina has pointed out. There is nothing compulsory about this. You put a card in, and you can withdraw it any time you see fit. The principle is well established. The government itself collects income tax in that way. Church dues are collected in that way.

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June 17, 1948