Maybe my generation just doesn’t know what unions are all about. I know they’ve played an important role in Cape Breton’s history and that in the early days of coal mining, for instance, they’d strike for better (safer) working conditions. But in more recent years, the image of unionized workers has become one of a self-serving clique that doesn’t work too hard, takes long breaks and still threatens to strike for free coffee, more vacation time, or because they don’t like their foreman. Growing up in a time when the unions were so powerful, I didn’t think unions even had a place in our economy . . . until Westray. If unions are so great, I thought as cynically as I can only when I really try, why were these people so mistreated? And then I heard, very quietly somewhere, that these workers weren’t unionized.
I’ve never really understood unions nor had much sympathy for strikers, but when my dad went out on the picket line outside MT&T, we canceled cable tv at our house to support those workers who had been on strike for months – a strike that is having no effect because the government allows the company to hire people to do the jobs of the people who are legally striking for their jobs and our island’s economy. Now that doesn’t seem fair to me. I agree that government should protect essential services like health care, (though you’d have to wonder how essential they consider that service, given the way they’ve been handling health care funding) and that some power should step in if the union is abusing its power, but I also think that the buy-ing public can choose whether or not to cross a picket line based on what that strike stands for. (if we could get fair and unbiased reporting of the issues from the monopolized media to make an informed decision, that is) I was flickin’ through the channels the other day (at some friends’ house where the cable was hooked up when they moved in cause it wasn’t disconnected when the previous tenants moved out), when I stalled at an advertisement proclaiming “CAPE BRETON COUNTY’S STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN WILL HELP US CHART OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE … call 562-2201 for details.” The ad was for Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority and was broadcast on channel 10, Cape Breton Cable’s Ad Channel. From what I understand, the cable workers are on strike because the owner of this channel wants to move their jobs out of our community, a move that will take money out of our island’s economy. How can the CBCEDA support such a move (which they are doing by spending their money advertising on this channel)? Does this mean that part of their plan for our economic future is the elimination of jobs on Cape Breton Island? And what about local businesses like Maritect Investigations & Security Ltd. who are facilitating this treason by protecting the replacement workers and everyone else advertising on the Ad-Channel who are making it easier for the company to ignore the strike and contributing to the destruction of Cape Breton Island’s economy? And YOU are SUPPORTING THE ELIMINATION OF JOBS on CAPE BRETON Island if you’re still PAYING FOR CABLE TV! Are the silicon hills and valleys of BAYWATCH really worth it?