Buying the Union Vote
I’m sure Sam is grinning from ear to ear – now that he (the conservative candidate and not Judy WL) has the endorsement of the Winnipeg Police Association (WPA) the union that represents Winnipeg police officers and staff members. Unions traditionally support candidates with a labour background – but not the WPA.
The Winnipeg Police Association is a different sort of union. With the vast majority of its members being police officers (the WPA also represents the staff sector), there is nothing left leaning or labour oriented about its membership. Police officers tend to be conservative in their values and political orientation. It comes with the job. The WPA is largely a union in the same sense that the NHL Players Association is a union. The ‘union’ is a vehicle that allows them to bargain collectively – no more and no less and that is where their unionism ends.
So how did Sam ‘buy’ the support of the union that isn’t really a union? Largely by promising to increase their membership. Do the math: unions are funded through union dues. More members mean more money in union coffers. In this case the addition of 77 members represents additional cash flow into the WPA coffers in the amount of approximately 30 to 40 thousand dollars a year.
The WPA is apparently prepared to enter into this unseemly arrangement in return for more money and more power.
The fact is, Sam has got this one figured out at least in the short-term and right now I don’t think Sam is thinking much past October 27th 2010. In the long-term, the more powerful a union becomes, the more potent an adversary it will be when it’s time for collective bargaining.
In the event Sam is re-elected the time will come when WPA will call in its chips and remind the mayor “We endorsed you”. When that happens, the old adage of ‘pay me now or pay me later’ may well change to ‘pay me now and pay me later’.
At this point it is not known whether the mayor sought the political endorsement of the WPA and the union agreed, or whether the union proposed the endorsement and the mayor accepted it. But it really doesn’t matter who courted whom because in an ethical sense, both sides in this questionable arrangement are on the precipice, if not the downside, of the proverbial slippery slope.
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It is tricky politics dealing with the firefighter and police unions. They bank on being able to sway influence even if it is not always the best policies for the city as a whole.
In other words, there may never be adequate numbers of these professionals or a maximum wage they should be paid that would satisfy their unions.