Monday 6 September 2010

Ontario's non-unionized nurses

I just read in the Mississauga News that the province's non-unionized nurses are steamed that they are not getting the same increases in wages as the provinces unionized nurses.  As I understand it, the province has about 50,000 nurses that are members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association union and there are several thousand nurses that are not unionized working at non-union hospitals, 2000 at Mississauga's Trillium hospital for example.

This sounds like a 'no - duh' moment for the non-unionized workers (NUWs).  I find it a bit incredulous that these NUWs honestly believe that management has any obligation to bestow upon the NUWs the contract provisions negotiated by their unionized bretheren.  There is but one way to enjoy the protection of the union, join, pay your dues, and participate.

One must ask, "why would my employer pay me a fair wage?"
Here are the only reasons I could think of at 11:30 P.M.

High employment demand, low availability of workers;
Retain specialized employees from external recruitment;
Reduce likelihood of staff to organize (that means to unionize);
Contractually bound to a contract, union or otherwise;
To prevent job action (that means to go on strike).

There is no other legitimate reason of which I can think.  The 'high moral fibre' argument that you might be thinking of, where management recognizes the value of the individual and pays fairly because it is the right thing to do, actually does not exist.  It cannot exist in a corporate/capitalist system.  As a vice president/director I cannot pay employees more than the market dictates as I have a first obligation to the shareholders of the corporation.  It would be unethical to pay more in wages than the market dictates, if I did so, I would be using shareholder funds for my own use, for my own agenda.

The province will not pay the non-unionized workers any more than it needs to based on the above 4 reasons, they will not get the 3% increase because the province has no compelling reason to pay it.  The unionized nurses will get it because they locked the province into a contract no doubt under the threat of walk out.  The province has weighed the risks and alternatives and determined that the NUWs are too comfortable to shell out for union dues and actually join a union or to organize a non-union walk out;  they are too comfortable to seek employment elsewhere; and we already know, they have no contract.

It sounds like to me that the province has set the market value.