Thursday, September 08, 2005

Binding Arbitration

My father is a civilized, intelligent man, and he belonged in a union most if not all of his working life. As a kid I remember somebody going on strike somewhere, prompting me to ask Dad, "Could you guys ever go on strike?"

"No," he said. "With us it could only ever go to binding arbitration." He explained to me that in a civilized country, in a civilized age, we should go about our business in a civilized fashion.

A bit of a tangent... this whole lockout puts me in mind of the great fish war. A few years ago, if you recall, Brian Tobin just about took us to war with Spain over fish. Imagine... Canada at war with Spain in this day and age! You might not recall, but both sides had boats with guns off the coast of Newfoundland. There is no question but that the cause was just. Spain had just about depleted fish stocks and yet refused to stop fishing. What choice had we but to resort to violence? And before you knew it this peace loving nation was all afire with the notion that yeah, Canada could actually kick some butt, and we were righteous, we were proud, and sure enough we saved the fish, but man! We just about went to war with Spain. In this day and age.

It's only the result of considerable luck and some keen diplomacy that we managed to emerge from the altercation with no sanctions from the world community (except for Spain)... and that no blood was shed. According to James Bartleman, Chretien's foreign affairs advisor at the time (and my primary source for this little sermon), Europeans were flabbergasted that Canada should resort to such means. In an age when we're all supposed to be civilized.

When confronted with the fact that I'm actually locked out of work, deprived of income and dental benefits (I woke up the other day with a toothache, believe it or not), I cannot help but think: how is this possible in this day and age? Twenty-five years ago my father's union utilized binding arbitration. Mind you, this was in a civilized portion of our great land. Why such civilized notions have not spread to the rest of this unruly country in that time is beyond me.

I have broached the subject of binding arbitration on the line. When the laughter dies down, I am gently reminded that in fifteen months they could not come up with an agreement; there is no reason to believe that binding arbitration would work.

This is where I get passionate. Brace yourselves: The reason they never came up with an agreement is because THEY KNOW THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO. If they were forced into binding arbitration neither side could resort to a strike or lockout. Management could not count on forcing us into a lockout situation in an effort to break the union. Both sides would be rather more motivated to come up with a deal in the time that they had. Lest an arbitrator do it for them.

Strikes and lockouts are uncivilized and unnecessary.

Binding arbitration, folks.

We'd never have to walk the line again.


Blogger Nobody in Particular said...

I completely agree, and have suggested as much myself to various people - binding arbitration may well be the only way this will come to an end!

11:15 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

binding arbitration is absolultely the way to go.
it forces both sides to take reasonable positions.
a public broadcaster shouldn't be allowed to withhold service by virtue of a lockout - nor a union, by virtue of a strike.
i actually agree with people who
say money should be clawed back.
The CBC shouldn't be paid for providing crap.

3:56 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The CBC shouldn't be paid for providing crap."

Easy, now. I know what you mean, but at the same time, I think we have to be careful w/ this argument. Does that mean that anytime that CBC TV or Radio or .ca creates something that someone somewhere thinks is crap, we should have our funding cut ? Hey, I'm not saying what's onair right now is good - lord help us & get this over with as soon as possible - and like I say, I think I know what you mean, BUT... I think it's dangerous for us to even go NEAR the road - let alone down it - of cuttin'-back-the-$$s-if-you-don't-like-the-content. I'm not supporting the make-do just-keep-it-afloat stuff on any of the 3 services right now, but at the same time, I spend a lot of energy trying to convince people that stable long-term funding for public broadcasting is in their interest, even if sometimes it means there is some content they might not use/like/agree with.

I'm jus' sayin', s'all.

And yes, binding arbitration is the way to go.

11:29 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok, ok - i get what you mean too.
i'm not saying if people don't like our product, we get should be financially penalized.
what i'm saying is, the CBC shouldn't get financially REWARDED for throwing people on the street and then not meeting the traditional standards of the CBC.
ctv doesn't throw people on the street - neither does global. they don't because it costs them money.
the cbc makes money when they do it. i know we're underfunded, but there's a principle here. if the cbc didn't save money in lockouts and strikes, you can pretty much bet we'd never wear a sandwich board again.

3:31 a.m.  
Blogger cbcworkerbee said...

I'm glad you folks agree. I was talking to a fireman today; naturally, they are required to use binding arbitration. He said it usually takes awhile, but the wait is worth it. The question is, how do we go about getting binding arbitration for the CBC? Especially considering there's no way that (the current) senior management would ever go for it.

10:16 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i doubt we can argue for binding arbitration until this is over - and i'm not sure the guild would go for it anyway. i've done stories on this - neither labour or industry seem to like it much...and at the very least, the union would have to sign on.
(incidentally - i'm anonymous who wrote about clawing back $$ from the corp)
onto another discussion now(which i'd start if i had my own blog so i hope you don't me using yours)
We all know the cbc is underfunded. we also know that no amount of complaining about is has done any good. i can't help but wonder if we were funded differently - then perhaps, we could make the argument more persuasively.
here's what i'm suggesting. before the canada health and social transfer ($$$ money from the feds to the provinces), ottawa sent money targeted for 3 envelopes. health, education and social services. provinces had to spend in those areas accordingly.
once it became the CHST, it was a lump sum the provinces could portion out any way they chose and the accountability was lost.
perhaps the cbc should be funded in a targetted way. instead of a lump sum - a specific amount for regional, national, radio, french, drama/entertainment/ sports etc. then the CBC couldn't engage in voodoo accounting. but more important, when one area was found wanting, the cbc could say - well we spent all the money we had for that department. of course regular external audits would have to be done to make sure the money was spent where is was supposed to. but it would also put pressure on the feds. no local and regional presence??? well we've only got 50 million dollars for that! the idea needs some work - but i think it's a campaign we could sell and win.
the cbc always complains it's asked to do too much with too little. well the feds should be forced to fund exactly what it thinks the cbc MUST do. what it doesn't fund, we don't do. what it doesn't fund appropriately, we don't do well. as it stands right now, we've got all of the responsibility of meeting countless demands within our mandate with diminishing resources and then we're criticized for letting some things slide in favour of something else. if this kind of funding was in place in 1990, the closures wouldn't have happened - they COULDN'T have happened. and we wouldn't be in this ridiculous situation where we keep trying to reinvent supper shows - especially this latest fiasco where 3 cities were asked to spend a year designing pilots that were doomed to fail (with the exception of st. john's) and then, when the pilots stunk because they weren't properly funded or properly staffed, they were asked to come up with a business plan. A
BUSINESS PLAN!!!!! ? gimme a break.
as if there's a business argument for supper shows in markets that moved on from the CBC a lifetime ago. you have to invest the money,
to recreate the market - then and ONLY THEN, do you have a frickin
business plan. that was just a face saving measure to back out of a badly thought out strategy.
dear god, figuring out the answer to 2+2 must give that bunch migraines!!

lets face it - the feds appoint our president, our chair and our board - so the arms length stuff is a myth. they get off the hook far too easily. this lockout is a perfect example.
what do you think? (sorry this rant was soooooooooo long)

4:01 a.m.  
Blogger cbcworkerbee said...

Interesting idea. I'll give you some air time.

2:07 p.m.  

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