i support striking city workers and you should too

I am completely disgusted at the vitriol being directed at striking city workers in Toronto.

Apparently everyone wants other people to have less than what they have. Anyone Who Has More should be knocked down a peg. And god forbid the People Who Have More are paid with My Taxes! I don't want My Taxes to keep anyone comfortable! Everyone should suffer! Hey, if Those People were slaves, we wouldn't have to pay any taxes at all! Whoo-hoo!

Many of the people brimming over with anger and resentment towards striking city workers are well-paid and comfortable themselves. Some are even members of other, non-affected unions!

Newsflash, angry Torontonians. Gains for unionized workers raise the standards for all workers.

We all aren't lucky enough to belong to a strong union that fights to get us better pay, benefits or working conditions, or to keep what we already have. But the strong unions' efforts help all of us. That's been proven throughout history. Without the higher standards hard-fought for and won by unions, most of us would still be labouring under 19th Century conditions.

But all anyone cares about is the inconvenience to them. And of course, their taxes. "I pay their salaries! They have some nerve! I don't have bankable sick time, why should they?" Yes indeed, why should anyone have what I don't have. If I can't have it, no one should!

Can your employer unilaterally change your working conditions? Mine can.

Do you like it? I don't.

So should I advocate for everyone to have no control over their working life, like I do?

Isn't it better that some workers, rather than none, have a measure of input into their working conditions, through a collective bargaining agent?

For a good explanation of why sick time should be bankable, and why this is not just fat for Greedy Evil Unions, see Impudent Strumpet here and here. But my main point is not bankable sick time.

I've had my benefits cut and my workload increased because of layoffs and cutbacks. If I had a union to fight on my behalf, maybe that wouldn't have happened, or maybe the change wouldn't have been as severe. Maybe the company would have been forced to keep some of the laid off employees.

But because I work in a notoriously non-unionized sector, my employer can hit us with whatever they want. The cutbacks from my employer lower the standards throughout the industry. When the law firm I work for cut our transportation benefit and increased our workload, it wasn't long before another firm did, then another... and before you know it, that is becoming the new normal. When things improve, do you think they'll reinstate our benefits? Don't count on it.

That's how it works - in reverse - when union employees make gains through collective bargaining. A threshold is breached, a new standard is set. The higher standard becomes the new normal. We all win.

We should want people to have good jobs. Jobs through which you can support a family, take a child to the doctor without losing a day's pay (or your job!), have insurance so you don't have to choose between paying rent and taking your medication, have a decent vacation. We should want people to have good jobs so they can live good lives. So we can have a strong society.

But no. All we care about is paying less taxes, and the inconvenience to ourselves. Everyone Who Isn't Me should have not a penny more, not a single day off, not a hair more of comfort, than I have.

Canadians should be ashamed of themselves. I'm always hearing how much better Canada is than the US. Folks, this is as American as it gets, because it's all about ME. The individual. Here's Imp Strump again:
Meanwhile, I'm terrified. Not by the strikes (although the prospect of a prolonged garbage strike with no alcohol available is kind of scary for someone with my phobias), but by the attitude of the public. There are so many loud people who seem so vehemently opposed to anyone making a decent living. They seem to genuinely and truly want all these people - LCBO workers, daycare workers, even garbage collectors - to be among the working poor, floating through contract hell. They seem to actively think that it's outright wrong for these workers to be making a decent working-class living, something where you can rent a small house in a safe neighbourhood, go to the dentist whenever necessary, buy your kid some skates for xmas and take them to Canada's Wonderland in the summer. This terrifies me, because if they want these people to be poor, they also want me to be poor. I'm far less important and have a far easier job than a garbage man! They just haven't noticed me yet because my job is to be invisible.

. . . .

I know many people in the world don't get to live at that level, but here in Toronto in the 21st century, it isn't really so much to ask. I'm not asking for diamond-encrusted platinum, I'm not even asking for a car, I just want to be able to continue to make a living that allows me these small comforts. But these loud angry people who begrudge the garbage men a paycheque that allows them to buy their kids skates will, as soon as they notice I exist, want to send me back to having things crawling out of my walls. I don't feel safe.

I'd like to see a study of the people who begrudge others a safe, steady living for a solid day's work. What do they do for a living? What's their financial situation and career history like? What are some examples of what they think are appropriately-compensated jobs?

Stand strong, CUPE workers! Fight for yourselves, fight for us all!

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