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Ben Stewart: Secret ballot system for workers should not be scrapped

Ben Stewart is the MLA for the Kelowna West riding. He has served in that role since 2018, having previously represented Westside–Kelowna from 2009 to 2013.

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<who> Photo credit: NowMedia

The BC Liberals have been raising the alarm over the NDP’s changes to worker rights over the past month, specifically Bill 10 and their decision to remove the secret ballot. This is a course of action that will be bad for BC for so many reasons, including:

  1. The secret ballot system is a fundamental democratic right — the NDP’s Bill 10 will scrap this fair and democratic process workers currently use to decide how to organize themselves.
  2. Under the current secret ballot system today, there are strict guidelines that protect employees from undue coercion or pressure by employers or union organizers.
  3. While the NDP claim Bill 10 will ensure a fair unionization process, union organizers will be unrestricted as to where, when and how often they can approach workers to get signatures on cards — they’ll even be free to collect signatures in social settings and the presence of other co-workers.
  4. The NDP’s own 2018 Labour Relations Code Review Panel Report recommended keeping the secret ballot — the NDP ignored that advice and plans to scrap the secret ballot anyway.
  5. A recent poll showed 79 per cent of British Columbians oppose doing away with the secret ballot and only 9 per cent support card checks — Bill 10 ignores popular opinion and is a major step backwards for BC.
  6. The NDP sees this as a way to boost membership in NDP-aligned unions, which are their biggest donors — let’s remember, the NDP received the largest donation ($672,576) in BC’s political history from the United Steelworkers Union before the 2017 election.
  7. For 30 of the past 38 years, BC has operated under the secret ballot system and it’s the norm in other provinces throughout Canada.
  8. Under the NDP, insider labour agreements are already costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of additional dollars in cost overruns on projects like the Pattullo Bridge replacement and Kicking Horse Canyon — it’s estimated that NDP-friendly labour agreements could add as much as $4.8 billion to the cost of public infrastructure projects.
  9. Bill 10 will also allow for "union raiding" in the construction industry every summer, which will lead to further delays and cost overruns on important residential, commercial and public infrastructure projects.
  10. It’s incredibly hypocritical that the most secretive government in Canada wants to strip workers of their right to a secret ballot — it looks like the NDP expects full transparency from everyone but themselves.

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