The role of elected leaders in collective bargaining is to let the parties negotiate without interference.

Generally speaking, voters outside the anti-union right wing tend to support pro-labour parties.

That said, we don’t expect or demand that a government ‘from our side’ to deal out the best terms and big cash settlements (in public sector bargaining) or unduly pressure corporations in the private sector, but that the bargaining teams finally sit across from each other as equals to hammer out terms of a new contract.

In fact, I offer praise and respect when political leaders and elected officials get FAR away from the stage in these contract talks – despite the lure of getting involved.

Its too easy to meddle and put ones finger on the scale when you’re in a position of power. When the BC Liberals were in office, they ran advertising (as taxpayer supported gov’t ads) demonizing the BCTF as demanding items outside of the “affordability zone” as then Education Minister Peter Fassbender often said.

What incentive do employer-negotiators have to move off an entrenched position when their political master underwrites their argument in public like that.

Bad faith.

That is why I appreciate this current government and its effective radio silence in the various public sector negotiations now underway. This respectful tone has allowed the potential of an HEU tentative agreement (with 60k healthcare sector employees).

It doesn’t mean that either side won’t trot out some talking points to pressure the other side by means of public opinion, but there’s well documented risks of negotiating in public – especially if both sides pledge not to do that.

I will say that activists on one side or another can complicate matters for their respective bargaining teams. They don’t act as official spokespersons for the union or employer group, and most often are not even members of said organizations. Free expression is a funny thing, ain’t it?

Having political leaders butt out of negotiations and leaving the parties to settle their own terms isn’t a guarantee of a perfect deal. There’s a 100% guarantee that even if the HEU deal goes through, some folks in the union will argue that they could have got more. Likewise, anti-unionists and rightwingers alike will argue that the deal goes to far.

Pay no attention to those voices.

What matters most is that both sides were free to settle matters free from government interference or coercion and that the members get to decide how this plays out.

my2bits

Published by

islander1974

40ish leftish, mouthy-ish. My politics are clearly left and I'm tired of compromise with the neo-liberal right. They've driven a wedge with their money based centrist politics. We used to be able to do great things and we can again; we just need the leadership to do so; and folks to say as much.

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