Looks like I know where I’ll be eating lunch

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The CUPE suggested boycott shouldn’t deter you from eating at Bento

Author: Scott Pettigrew – Contributor

At one point in North American history, unions served an incredibly vital role in promoting and enforcing safety, fair wages, and general wellbeing of workers. Those virtues I will not for one second deny. When you were a factory worker in early 20th century North America, your union was by far and away the biggest thing keeping you in position of comfort and stability. What we are seeing with unions now, however, is a vastly different story.

Unions are no longer the voice for the downtrodden against the establishment. One thing I take issue with, is the way that many unions (like CUPE) regulate compensation and promotion in the workplace. Seniority is paramount, and your personal production is “noted,” but for the sake of compensation and benefits, not overly relevant. Unions prevent their workers from many industries with having the choice to have membership in a union or not. You’re a teacher? Oh! Welcome to the union, forced fees are due on Wednesday. Not that you’ll be working very much or when you want; Jim has been here 35 years, so he gets first dibs. Not wishing to be a member is about as relevant as how productive you are to these people; not very. It’s about making sure Jim’s chair doesn’t get too cold, and that you pay your union dues on time.

For many unions, including CUPE, the “big picture” of labour and the wellness of workers is ignored, in favour of keeping control and power over workers. After all, it’s awfully hard to collect those ever-welcome and wholly expensive mandatory union fees that they love so much when workers can find available employment without them. For instance, our new P3 sewer system in Regina created quality jobs for local construction workers and service people; yet CUPE endlessly campaigned against the project because workers had a choice to transfer employment to the private contractor. Businesses are treating their workers better and the need for Unions is on the decline; which, if you’re a union boss, doesn’t sit well with you. So what started out as a movement to stop selfish exploitation has grown to embody it.

This is why this whole “Bento” thing is driving me nuts. Here you have a restaurant, which is providing employees with employment and what I suspect are decent work environments. They are working there because they want to, and who is CUPE or anybody else to stand in the way and tell them, or us, that is wrong. It’s insulting and I’m sure it’s insulting to the people that work there that CUPE act like they know what is best for them. After all, this is Saskatchewan, and if these people don’t like working for Bento there are lots of jobs to find elsewhere. In fact, our unemployment levels are some of the lowest in the country, so the whole “forced to work there” narrative can’t hold water here. It’s deceptive, empty rhetoric told by people who have a horse in the race, and don’t like the idea of you buying sushi from somebody who doesn’t work for them.

So go, eat their sushi, and while you eat it, think about how you are helping the person who made it for you get ahead in life. Think about the young guy rolling sushi as fast as he can, so that his manager will give him a good reference for his dream job when he finishes school. Maybe he’ll even get a promotion; something that doesn’t happen in a union work environment if you’re the new guy. Employees have reasons for why they want to work for their employer, and what they have to gain from working there. Those individual reasons, to us, are unknown. However, this whole illusion that anti-union is anti-worker is the kind of thing only spoken from mouths who are fed from the fruits of other’s work. I care about jobs being created, and not whether the union provides them; something CUPE seems to have a problem doing.

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