I’m generally opposed to unions in the West. They seem more meritous in some industries (nursing, for example) than others (teaching and forestry), but generally they’re ridiculous 19th century institutions. I know something of what I speak because I’ve been in a union. Two, actually–I worked for one at UVic for a bit I think.
I remember one particularly illustrative experience working for the Rec Centre. I wanted to undertake some work above and beyond the call of my position–admin assistant. It was some magical geekery I was going to do to improve tennis bookings, I think. Despite the fact that everyone agreed that it was a good idea, they wouldn’t let me do it because it wasn’t in my job description. Everyone has a story like this, about how unions discourage innovation and reward mediocrity.
In Western Canada, we’re always hearing about the sufferings of forestry industry workers. I recently heard on the radio that the average forestry worker makes CAN $50,000 a year. Those doing the most elite, dangerous work can earn over CAN $100,000. That kind of money goes a long way in small towns. And I’m supposed to feel sorry for these guys?
There’s currently an ‘essential services’ job action for BC Ferries, which limits the number of ferries going to Vancouver Island. Not only does this lick abstractly, but I’m heading to the island this weekend. We’re fortunate to be able to consider the alternative of flying, or we might spend half of Friday at Horseshoe Bay, waiting for the union to permit us to use a public service.
I went looking for the average wages of BC Ferry employees, but couldn’t find any. In fact, I went to the BC Ferry and Marine Workers site. They seem to have intentionally crippled their site. Or, if they haven’t, it’s a really lousy site. Of course, a savvy Google user can determine that there’s lots –at least 89 pages–on their site that they’re not linking to.
What on that site convinces me that these people deserve more money, or less hours, or whatever they’re striking for this week? I’m sure that they’re Web stats have increased this week, with them being in the news. Why not provide some compelling information to make me more sympathetic to their cause? I’ve emailed them to enquire about this, and the average salary of a BC Ferry worker.