Labour monopoly can prove costly

NANAIMO – A monopoly on labour and the ability to charge the ‘customer’ can combine with human nature to take unfair advantage.

To the Editor,

Several years ago, I made a presentation to the Regional District of Nanaimo board regarding what I called ‘mission creep’ or the ever expanding role of municipal government.

I presented data from the RDN itself, showing not only how the number of employees per thousand residents was growing, but the generous salaries, benefits and pensions that outstrip our ability to continue funding them.

I was attacked by a number of board members who accused me of engaging in a ‘race to the bottom’, expecting municipal employees to work for minimum wage and even if you pay peanuts, you know what you get.

The point I was addressing was the monopoly position of unionized civic employees and the ability of their employers to simply increase taxes to meet their demands. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

Human nature, as it relates to civic government was reflected in two news stories from Jan. 28.

The first story, from the TV news, highlighted how municipal leaders, despite generous remuneration, feel entitled to double-dip for a variety of civic functions, including committee meetings.

The second, in a national newspaper, reported that 29 Hamilton civic workers were fired for simply not doing the work claimed, despite their generously funded positions.

This is not to say that either the RDN board or its employees behave in such a fashion, but it does illustrate how a monopoly on labour and the ability to charge the ‘customer’ – who has no option but to use and pay for that service – can combine with human nature to take unfair advantage of the opportunity.

Randy O’Donnell