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DOLLARS & SENSE—In Canada, says Shuman, less than one-third of all employees work for large businesses. Also, the percentage of revenue put aside for research & development is up to 6 per cent higher for small businesses than for large ones.

The more businesses are locally owned, the more power unions like CUPE have to affect public policy in their communities, renowned author Michael Shuman told delegates yesterday.

Shuman, the featured international guest speaker at this year’s convention, entertained and informed CUPE delegates with a 45-minute lesson on how smaller-scale local business and investment strengthen communities—and benefit labour.

Using a favourite comparison from his best-selling book, The Small-Mart Revolution, the U.S. economist reduced local economics to a choice between two approaches: TINA (There Is No Alternative to large-scale global capital and big corporations) and LOIS (Locally Owned, Import Substituted).

The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL football team not owned by a single obnoxious individual,” he said. “If Green Bay passed a living wage law, would the Packers pick up and leave the city? No, and they can’t because they’re locally owned and operated. And they generate a lot of community benefits.”

Shuman said that labour should adopt the LOIS approach because, among other reasons, it maximises public revenue and generates better wages than the TINA approach.

Smaller businesses are becoming clear friends to the labour movement,” Shuman concluded, “because they support living wage legislation. Decentralization is also our friend: it’s where we experiment with labour-friendly business.”