Canada’s building trades have launched a new website to lobby against Bill C-377.
If passed, the legislation would create more bureaucracy and dramatically increase costs for unions.
The website is at www.workersbuildcanada.ca.
The website contains a list of myths and facts about Bill C-377 and information how union members can email, fax or mail comments to MPs.
The Canadian branch of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, which represents more than half a million unionized trades, opposes the Bill because it is intended to fix a problem that does not exist.
“Instead,” says a statement on the Department’s website, “it actually duplicates processes that are already in place to provide accountability and transparency for our workers and would create an expanded, expensive and redundant bureaucracy. Our costs of compliance will be extraordinary and beyond that required of any other tax entity.”
The proposed legislation is a private member’s Bill. In a nutshell, it would require labour organizations in Canada to file detailed, annual financial statements that go into much greater depth than your typical income statement and balance sheet.
Once submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency, the complete financial package would be made public for anyone to view by way of the Internet.
Conservative estimates put the additional administration costs for compliance in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent. This can be attributed to increased labour costs associated with statement tracking and preparation, and will increase the expenses of unions.
Meanwhile, union pension and benefit plan administrators would also be faced with additional administrative costs.
The building trades are also concerned that the Bill would infringe on members’ privacy.
A component of the Bill requires that the union disclose any trust fund transaction or disbursement (i.e. health and welfare payment, pension payment, etc.) to a member in excess of $5,000, accompanied with the name and address of the recipient, and the purpose for the payment.
Another concern is that regulations to be established after the Bill is passed would require extensive information to be filed on political lobbying activities.
As part of the campaign, the Department is asking union members to call their local Members of Parliament in an effort to convince them to vote against Bill C-377.
A lobby day is also scheduled to be held in Ottawa on May 15.