Bill C-377 purports to address the accountability and transparency of labour unions. But according to CUPE’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee, C-377 is not about transparency or accountability. The real motivation for the bill is to silence unions and their members.
“It is a transparent attack on unions, and their allies who advocate for Canadian workers. Labour is a strong voice of dissent in these times in our democratic society, and this private member’s bill is designed to stifle that voice. Unfortunately for the Conservatives, CUPE will not be silenced by this legislation and neither will the broader labour movement in Canada,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist.
CUPE, like other unions, is already transparent and accountable to its members. Labour unions are regulated under labour laws and the majority of these mandate financial disclosure to those who pay their dues, and to whom they are accountable: their members. Like CUPE, most unions go beyond what is required by law. In CUPE’s case, our constitution demands it.
Disregarding what is already working, Bill C-377 would impose detailed financial and information reporting and public disclosures on all labour organisations, far in excess of what is required of any other organization or individual in Canadian society. All other non-profits, business organizations, corporations, charities and even government, public institutions and Members of Parliament are not covered by the bill.
“The degree of “red tape” this bill creates, and detailed reporting required will pull resources from the legitimate and important work unions and labour organizations are established to do for their members: bargaining fair wages, delivering decent pensions, ensuring health and safety standards, ensuring workers are fairly treated, contributing to local economy and advocating the interest of their members in myriad ways,” underlined CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.
The costs of Bill C-377 will be important not only for unions. The federal government will have to spend millions in tax-payers’ money each year to receive and process the massive volume of data generated by labour organizations.
Bill C-377 also contravenes federal and provincial privacy laws which protect individuals’ most intimate personal and confidential information.
“Bill C-377 is arguably the most intrusive, egregious, inequitable, onerous and unnecessary piece of legislation we have seen in decades. The problems with the bill are too numerous to be fixed through amendments. It must be withdrawn or defeated in its entirety,” concluded CUPE in its submission.