Bluffs Advocate


Missing the Target

True solidarity isn't forced; it's nourished by a foundation that's built upon hard work, perseverance and respect

By Elisha Allensen

            I always get angry when unions come under fire—especially when that fire is misguided or plain incorrect. I feel even more enraged when I turn on the radio and hear that 17,600 employees are about to be given the boot because of corporate greed. The recent Target situation is a by-product of the Harper government's inability to see what was clearly a hostile takeover by the company.

Consider this; when Target expressed interest in purchasing Zellers from Hudson's Bay, they refused to rehire personnel because "the transaction was merely a real estate deal and not a wholesale purchase of Zellers chains." It was a rather convenient way to say that they were looking to rid themselves of unionization, essentially giving them the ability to control and exploit a slave labour force.

As for our valiant government, I guess a percentage payout of $1.8 billion was more of a priority than the 27,000 people about to lose their jobs—15,000 of which were unionized under the UFCW. Thousands of those workers had earned their seniority; those thousands, if multiplied by the rule of 3 (3 for every 1 person affected), would all see their hard work taken from them and replaced by an insulting severance package.

Today, we suffer déjà vu. Only this time, the aforementioned severance packages won't be nearly as fair due to the many employees who were not able to collect the allotted hours to qualify. Yet again, this is seemingly a case of the government missing the target, so to speak…or did it? I used to think that the government simply lacked the wherewithal to make a difference in this regard, though more and more, I'm beginning to realize, regardless of the outcome, that the Harper administration has already made its money. And the government doesn't seem to care that it was made on the backs of almost 45,000 Canadians, but this seems to be irrelevant. There is always plausible deniability.

If there was ever a time to be thankful for unions, it's now. As a unionized worker, I can sleep soundly with the knowledge that my job cannot and will not be sacrificed on a whim. I'm more to my brothers and sisters than a walking, talking piggybank that big business or the government can exploit, manipulate, or ignore. True solidarity isn't forced; it's nourished by a foundation that's built upon hard work, perseverance, and respect. But it's important to realize that until we change the culture of government, we can expect more companies to target us to their own advantage.