The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Mediacheck

A Day in the Life of Union-Bashing National Post

Its newsroom tries to unionize, defying two decades of published anti-labour screeds.

By David J. Doorey 14 Sep 2017 | TheTyee.ca

David Doorey is an Associate Professor of Labour and Employment law at York University’s School of Human Resource Management and Academic Director of Osgoode Hall Law School’s executive LLM Program in Labour and Employment Law. His Law of Work blog is here.

[Editor's note: The drive by the National Post’s Ontario newsroom to unionize raises the question: Don’t they believe their own newspaper? Founder Conrad Black called public sector unions a “blight on our society” and scoffed that his striking Calgary Herald employees were just “trying to swaddle themselves in the clothes of oppressed workers seeking respect for their rights." That’s how it’s gone pretty much every day in the National Post, under two more owners, since its 1998 launch. Take a random look at the November 26, 2008 edition. That day York University professor of Work Law David J. Doorey happened to train his expert eye on the National Post and below is what he found and blogged. Good luck, NP workers, in your attempt to freeze hell.]

LAW OF WORK BLOG, NOVEMBER 26, 2008, POSTED BY DAVID J. DOOREY:

I read the National Post today while riding my exercise bike through my virtual Wii world. It made me laugh out loud (the Post, not the Wii world, which is actually pretty cool).

The Post today had no less than three anti-union rants! On page A16, Mathieu Roy called unions “parasites of Western societies.” Ouch.

On page A17, Paul Andrews blamed the downfall of the Big Three auto manufacturers on unions. He wrote: “The legacy costs associated with inflated union wages and pensions are the reason that the Big Three are not profitable.” [I'm not sure that argument is very convincing. Perhaps the fact that the companies continued to produce gas-guzzling SUVs that no one wants anymore, while paying their executives hundreds of millions of dollars for making those kinds of decisions might have something to do with it. Check out an alternative opinion by Harvard economist Richard Freeman here.]

Then on p. FP15, Ray Pennings blamed construction unions and labour laws in Ontario for discouraging innovation in the Ontario construction industry. I’m not sure if he means the innovation of the construction workers, or the developers, or someone else.

So, unions are evil and the cause of most economic problems. We’ve heard all this before from the National Post, so that’s not what is funny. As Elaine and Jerry would say, yada, yada, yada. What I found funny was the juxtaposition of these arguments against unions with the article by employment lawyer Howard Levitt on page WK1. Levitt was advising employers on the best way to layoff non-union workers in these difficult times. My summarization of his advice is this:

Don’t be generous. Pay people less notice pay than they are actually legally entitled to. If an employee sues to recover what they are legally entitled to, hire him (or some other lawyer who is “not anxious to settle”) to fight hard in order to send a message to other employees that they are in for a fight if they have the gall to demand what they are legally entitled to. And, for God’s sake, don’t offer to pay the employee’s lawyer’s excessive costs if you settle the case later. That way, the employee may actually be financially punished for trying to press for the severance they were legally entitled to.

Come on, you have to admit that’s funny. The inference in the first three opinions was that workers (and society generally) would be better off without unions, presumably because unions are not needed to protect workers. The Levitt piece then demonstrates that, without unions, employers can dismiss employees without actually paying them what they are legally entitled to, because few non-union employees have the resources to take on their employer in court. Mr. Levitt’s advice is to treat employees unfairly (by giving them less than what a court would order the employer to pay), and dare them to file a lawsuit!

Don’t forget that the people the employer terminates are usually friends with the people who remain employees. Studies show that important reasons why people join unions are for better job security and because they perceive management is treating workers unfairly. So, if you are an HR manager, a good way to get the remaining employees to consider a union is to be a prick to the employees you do layoff. That’s also a good way to acquire a reputation as an unfair employer. But, as Mr. Levitt notes, it might save you a few bucks, as long as the legal fees aren’t more than the cost of simply paying the employee the proper notice pay in the first place.

I laughed all the way to the finish line (where I won access to a new Yoga move!)  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities

Do:

  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

What Issue Is Most Important to You This Election?

Take this week's poll