10/25/12

Will Liberal leadership candidates support free collective bargaining?

Both of the key architects of the Liberal government's attack on free collective bargaining are as good as gone.  McGuinty will be gone January 26 and Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has indicated he will likely be gone from the Finance Ministry right about the same time.

The labour movement can take a big part of the credit for that.  The Liberal party went into free fall in the polls after the labour movement began to respond in kind to the attack on free collective bargaining in late August.

Worse, the Libs got themselves into this despite getting a long string of broader public sector settlements with two years of zeroes through free collective bargaining and normal interest arbitration.  What was it all for?

(True, municipal settlements have varied, but municipal circumstances also vary.   In any case, most municipal bargaining would not be affected by the Liberal proposals.)

Sandra Pupatello
So, the Liberal leadership candidates have to determine whether they want to continue to attack free collective bargaining in the broader public sector, or try to deal with the issue differently.  

Sandra Pupatello has been getting a lot of support from the big media in the last few days. She is positioned on the right of the Liberal party, closely allied with Dwight Duncan who led the charge on free collective bargaining (despite coming out of Windsor).   But other candidates may be more open to rethinking the confrontational approach. 

In the interim, we will see if the McGuinty / Duncan tag team can go out on a better note by negotiating a settlement with 40,700 OPSEU members in the Ontario Public Service.

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