This week on 60 Minutes they featured Brazil’s rise to world economic super power. Brazil is the world’s largest producer of iron ore and beef while getting ready to host the Olympics and the World Cup. Brazil is the competition in agriculture for countries like Canada and the United States. Countries like Brazil and China are flexible and a lower cost producer than Canada. Canada needs to be striving to become more efficient and productive while ridding itself of unnecessary regulation and constraints if it is going to compete with Brazil. One of these constraints and unnecessary regulations would be the addition of farm worker unions in Canada.
Could you imagine a labor stoppage during seeding or harvest? Could you imagine getting to work on the first sunny day in three weeks and you can finally harvest and you have no employees because the farm workers union is playing hardball for some reason? This is what will be more of a reality and something that you might need to contend with on your farm if people like James Clancy from the NUPGE gets his way.
Unions in general were formed in the early 1900’s for the purpose of achieving safer work environments for workers and fairer pay. I have been involved in agricultural farm management for several years and I know that the lack of pay is no longer an issue at all. Farm workers are paid very fair due to the scarcity of workers with the boom in the oil patch and competition from auto worker unions.
Most of the people that want to unionize farm labor talk about the lack of farm safety. I am all for the improvement of farm safety and making sure that no farm worker is put into a dangerous situation. I do think that we can improve farm safety without the need to form unions. The formation of farm worker unions would do nothing else but create some jobs for bureaucrats and make Canadian agriculture more uncompetitive in comparison to our friends in South America.
Have we learned nothing from the Canadian Auto Industry? The industry pretty much forced itself into bankruptcy due to legacy costs and inflated wages that were $20 hour more than the US auto worker. At this point in time the worst thing that could happen to the competitiveness of Canadian agriculture is the unionization of labor. There really is no advantage for the industry to do so.