Aug 05, 2023

State of the unions — 2 jokes and tragedy

Based on the author’s interpretations and judgments of facts, data and events.

William Thomas. - William Thomas photo

Disclaimer: the following is William Thomas’s satirical take on unions and impaired driving.

The power of unions to protect their members sometimes steps over the line and breaches common sense. Two recent examples popped up in the news last week.

A Toronto cop has just been charged with trying to smuggle cigars worth $10,000 into Canada. Stating he had nothing to declare, the 16-year veteran of the force was allegedly caught with 253 Cohibas in his luggage after a flight from Cuba.

At the time, this 49-year-old police officer, was out on bail, having had a dozen other charges laid against him for theft, fraud and breach of trust. Allegedly he’d stolen a dead woman’s credit card, which he used 16 times after her death. He’s also charged with stealing the watch of a missing man who later tuned up dead. He allegedly then tried to sell the $15,000 Tag Heuer timepiece, but not before he entered into a “fraudulently obtained motor vehicle” scheme with an accomplice.

By the time he decided to become an “international tobacco trader,” he was out on bail. Another bail hearing is pending. The Toronto Police Association is a very strong union.

Let’s say, for the sake of pure fantasy, in the meantime this guy steals a kid’s bicycle, uses it to rip the purse from the shoulder of a little old lady and uses her pension money to buy cocaine, hire a hooker and rent a room at a Lakeshore motel.

Before he is released on bail again (and don’t think he won’t be) everybody from his union rep, the prosecutor and the chief of police should look each other in the eye, and if everybody keeps a straight face while signing the document, “the Cohiba kid” hits the streets. But if just one person laughs out loud — “Man, I’d kill for a good Cuban cigar!” — the deal is off and bail is denied. Sorry, but it’s house arrest … at full pay.

On a routine night run from Montreal, south into the States, an unnamed long-haul driver smashed up her rig on a Pennsylvania highway. Her first mistake was purchasing two six packs of beer upon entering the United States. Her second mistake was drinking nine of the 12 cans of beer as she drove along the way.

Arrested for alleged impaired driving while over twice the legal limit, after she crashed and with no other vehicles involved, the trucker could not remember if she drank the remaining three cans of beer or threw them at that annoying triple-winged albatross that was flying too close to her driver’s side window.

In short order she applied for rehab and then notified her employer of the situation to which Groupe Robert fired her immediately. End of story? Not quite.

Teamsters Canada challenged her dismissal claiming, “the company could have installed an alcohol testing device” in her truck after the crash. An arbitrator has ordered she be reinstated and given her job back. The three-way ruling will likely stand unless one party adds the rider, “OK, but from now on, lite beer only.” Then, when everybody falls down laughing, the deal is off. Laughter is not just the best medicine, but it can also be a great “decider.”

I’m not picking on unions and given the obscene profits of corporations producing consumer goods in the age of “greedflation,” unions are more vital in this economy than ever. As a matter of fact … “Metro profits surge as strike grinds on.”

As their front-line employees walked the picket line, Metro Inc. “earned” $314.8 million in the last quarter (April, May and June), up from $283.8 the year before. The company benefited both from the tax breaks from Canada Revenue Agency and the cancellation of that “extra two dollar an hour COVID bump.”

When I learned than many employees of Metro supermarkets had to resort to food banks because they could not afford to buy the same food they prepare and sell to the rest of us … I was staggered. The last time I felt a wrench to the gut like that was when I read there are still 28 First Nations reserves in this country that do not have clean drinking water.

What the bloody hell? This is 2023. We are supposed to be a developed country. This is Canada, a model for democracy and an example of equal rights … not some badly abused nation run by a newly minted military junta.

First we need to feel ashamed and then we need to get angry that food giants like Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro are fixing prices and “earning” record profits while their employees are reduced to "will work for food” status. With the phrase “increase in wages” having been replaced with “a piece of the pie,” get used to long strikes. There’s a slew of ’em on the horizon.

For a comment or a signed copy of humour columnist William Thomas’s ”The Legend Of Zippy Chippy,” email [email protected].

Top stories delivered to your inbox.