Jun 8, 2011

Strong Public Sector Jobs Strengthen Private Sector Wages.

In response to the June 8 2011 Editorial appearing in the Prince George Citizen entitled: SAYONARA SNAIL MAIL?

Dear Editor,

Glad to see your paper acknowledge that Canada Post, a crown corp turning healthy profits for a decade and a half, remains the most cost-effective and efficient delivery service going.

I disagree, however with your editorial's assertion that the "tide of sympathy doesn't appear to be with the workers," or that "people are asking: 'why should workers with job security, good pensions and good wages get an even better deal, especially when those in the private sector aren't?"

To which people are you referring? The only person I've heard make that argument is Ezra Levant from Sun TV, a man yet to discover Canadians recognize the difference between journalistic integrity and unsupported right-wing assertions.

And to which private sector workers are you comparing postal workers? Are you talking about the private sector tradesperson who makes $50/hour, has a company truck, a gas card, and a 100% employer–paid pension? Or are you talking about the private sector burger flipper at Pat Bell's Wendy's making minimum wage? Perhaps you're referring to the private sector CEO, who on average in Canada, is now approaching earnings of $7.5 million per year?

In any scenario, how do any of these comparisons trivialize the desire of working people to see their wages keep pace with rising prices, to secure a safe and healthy retirement, and to ensure they don't risk missing a mortgage payment every time they fall ill?

One group of workers achieving fair earnings does not restrict the ability of another group to do the same. Quite the contrary, when workers in one sector successfully regain their lost share of the profit pie from CEOs who as a group, now obscenely hoard more real dollars than any other point in Canadian history - those workers strengthen the ability of workers in other sectors to also re-balance the equation.

Last time the income gap in Canada reached similar proportions, we suffered the Great Depression. The smaller the income gap between workers and CEOs, the more money rests in the pockets of consumers. This hard economic reality strengthens the middle class and by extension, the fortunes of the small business sector which depends on middle class spending power.

The resolve of Canada Post employees to resist their bosses' efforts to roll them back now, when prices are rising so fast, is a fight benefitting all of us. They've undertaken it because they can. Too many of us work in non-union environments where we've no option but to accept the concessions imposed by our employer.

Rural Canadians, like those of us in Prince George, understand better than anyone the vital importance of this fight, and support postal workers for standing strong. Their success represents a victory for citizens and business, particularly here in the North who all depend on a strong, efficient, public mail service.

Perhaps more importantly, Northerners also understand the need to protect the few family-supporting jobs our communities still have left.

Aaron Ekman | President
North Central Labour Council

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