In November 1983, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) formally adopted a resolution calling for freestanding abortion clinics, and the removal of abortion from the Criminal Code.
Reports following the annual convention implied that full support from the membership endorsed the motion. The Globe and Mail (November 24, 1983) ran a front-page story entitled “OFL Wants Full Abortion Access” and both the Toronto Sun and Star had similar headlines.
The story in the Globe was full of inaccuracies. The reporter, Wilfrid List, stated that “fewer than 10 of the 1,438 delegates” opposed the abortion motion. Unionist Paul Muller, convinced that this was a typographical error, called Paul Forder of the OFL. Mr. Forder explained that the vote was taken by a “show of hands and indicated that a fair number of the delegates may have abstained by not raising their hands at all.”
Mr. Muller pursued the matter and called the Globe reporter. Wilfrid List told him that he had not been in the room when the vote was taken and had relied upon second-hand information from another reporter as to the numbers recorded. The Star, in its report, indicated that 1,200 to 100 voted in favour of “freedom of choice with regard to abortion.”
Paul Muller wrote to the Globe stating the article to be “erroneous and misleading.” He stated, “It is unclear as to how many opposed the motion. Secondly, there was no mention that the vote was taken by a ‘show-of-hands.’ Thirdly, it is not known how many of the delegates abstained from voting.” The letter asked for the Globe to print an apology for the misleading story and to explain that many details were omitted. The Globe printed neither the letter nor an apology.
After writing to the Globe, Mr. Muller gathered further details. It was reported that OFL has 800,000 members. Mr. Muller points out “It appears that only 1,438 members (less that ¼ of 1%) had an opportunity to vote on this issue.
Further, he pointed out that individuals who supported the motion, addressed the convention just prior to the vote-taking, and that, for some reason, no anti-abortion views were expressed. “Undoubtedly, this also had a direct bearing on the outcome of the vote, which would have been markedly different had a strong anti-abortion stance been presented prior to the vote taking,” he wrote.
The OFL is not the only union bowing to pro-abortion pressure. In the November Interim Joe Borowski reported on how the Manitoba Federation of Labour adopted an abortion-on-demand resolution by pro-abortionists who blocked the pro-lifers wishing to speak to the motion.
Pro-lifers who vigorously disagree with their union’s involvement in the abortion issue have always had a hard time getting their views heard.
Overstepping their mandate
Don Ward, a member of the Communications Workers of Canada union, wrote to the Toronto Sun objecting to the Canadian Federation of Labour’s endorsing of abortion on demand.
In his letter, published on November 29, Mr. Ward pointed out that “The mandate which the Federation of Labour has been given is to deal with labour-related issues which would include employment, equal pay for equal work, good working conditions, etc.” In adopting such a stand on abortion, “The Federation has overstepped the boundaries of its jurisdiction,” Mr. Ward wrote.
Paul Tremblay, a teacher at Georgian College of Applied Arts and Technology, in Barrie, Ontario, is union steward for Local 350 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). Mr. Tremblay requested that his union dues be assigned to a pro-life counseling agency, Birthright.
A sensitive issue
There is a provision of the Ontario Labour Relations Act which provides for the assignment of union dues to a charitable organization on the ground that an employee’s conviction prohibits financial support of a union.
In a letter to the Labour Board, Mr. Tremblay stated that the pro-abortion resolution adopted by his union last August will result in financial support for abortion, which is contrary to his religious beliefs and is a direct infringement of his freedom of religious support. Mr. Tremblay is a Roman Catholic.
OPSEU stated that it will fight the transfer application, because it opposes all exemptions and believes Mr. Tremblay’s objection is based on political, not religious, grounds.
A Labour Board hearing took place on December 2nd, 1983. At that time, the Board reserved its decision, stating that this was a “sensitive issue.” No date has been given for an announcement of the decision.
Paul Bassi is another union member who has been trying to have a portion of his union dues diverted to an organization such as Birthright. Mr. Bassi’s article, which details the steps he has been taking, appears on the opposite page.
Who is in charge?
The question is why are the unions rushing to adopt pro-abortion platforms? As Don Ward points out, the purpose of a union is to deal with work-related issues. Unions were originally developed to better the working conditions of their members. Is it not ironic that in pushing for abortion on demand they are, in effect, killing their future members?