The victory by Kathleen Wynne at the Provincial Liberal Party Leadership Convention is a “Home Run” for trade union’s in Ontario.
It now appears that among Ms Wynne’s first acts as Premier Designate will be to call the Teacher’s unions and invite them and their fellow travellers, such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees, to meet her and her Team to discuss how they can all play nice on the sandlot.
Ms Wynne will use her prior good working relationship with Teacher’s unions, forged as a former provincial Education Minister, to demonstrate that she intends to rebuild the effective working coalition between the Liberal’s and organized labour.
It says here that one of the main reasons Liberal Party delegates selected Ms Wynne over her main rival Sandra Pupatello was that Ms Wynne, a professionally trained mediator, is perceived as more likely to resolve the open conflict/hostility with Teachers and to buy more time, in a minority Parliament, for the new Liberal Lineup to distance itself from the failed and patently unpopular policies and practices of Premier Dalton McGuinty, before the next Provincial Election takes place.
The unions will understand that they have real short term leverage with the new Liberal squad and its newly appointed Skipper.
The Premier Designate knows that she and her Red Team desperately need the Teacher’s unions, and their legendary campaign assets in her Team dug out. She also understands that she must appease the “Working Families Coalition”, a.k.a. organized labour, if she is to keep the NDP and its rookie Skipper, Andrea Horvath, playing defense from the outfield.
But how to accomplish all of this without entirely throwing her prior Team under the bus. Always remember, “…all evil is in the past.”
The answer is to signal a profound commitment to consult on and ultimately implement: education reform; labour law reform; as well as fiscal sustainability. (This was exactly the formula that kept successive Ontario Progressive Conservative. Governments in power, in minority government conditions, for the years between 1971 – 1985.)
The theory will be that labour peace and economic growth and sustainability go hand in hand.
Look for prominent Cabinet appointments of left leaning members to the Education and Labour Ministerial portfolios. (In Ontario politics, like baseball, it is clear that you need a supply of “port siders pitching on your staff.) In the same manner, don’t rule out a possible defection of a prominent NDP caucus member to cement the Liberal/trade union relationship.
But apart from a plethora of consultation (talk and more talk is cheap), what kinds of real labour and employment law reforms would potentially turn the trick in garnering trade union support while protecting the Liberals from attack, from the right, as economically profligate:
1. “Card based certification” under the Labour Relations Act, for all sectors not just the construction sector. (While this is truly just inside baseball stuff for everyone other than trade unionists, it is a real wedge issue with the Tory party);
2. Pension reforms aimed at securing pension benefits for all existing pensioners and providing extended plan funding relief for fund sponsors. (This will potentially rip a plank out of the NDP election platform); and,
3. Collective bargaining and arbitration reforms designed to ensure that the bargaining process, in at least the public sector, is treated as virtually sacrosanct going forward. (This will be very attractive to all Public Sector Union’s and their membership and will go some distance to eliminate the sting of Bill 115 with the Teachers).
Each of the above-noted moves, if implemented quickly, will almost certainly score immediate RBI’s and will potentially keep the Liberal “Big Red” Team on the playing field, and at bat, for an extended Inning. All of which would be music to the ears of nervous Liberal MPP’s on the bench and staring down certain demotion to the Minor Leagues if their Parliamentary Game ends prematurely.
Fans are advised: to watch the Waiver Wire; keep their score cards handy; and, to hold onto their caps. “…It’s never over till the last out is made.”