Author Topic: "Unionizing" the CF (merged)  (Read 80177 times)

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Offline Chop

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"Unionizing" the CF (merged)
« on: February 11, 2004, 12:40:00 »
This would probebly be a hot topic. But what do you all think if we unionize the Army?

There are other Armies that are.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 06:18:53 by milnews.ca »

Offline Enzo

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2004, 12:57:00 »
Which militaries are unionized and to what end?
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Offline Bruce Monkhouse

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2004, 13:10:00 »
I believe Norways military are unionized though I could be wrong. All I know is back in 82 in Norway, a lone RCR driving a BD202? had to lug all the toboggans up one of the mountains for the company I was doing the OP for. Apparently the Norwegian drivers invoked a health and safty clause and sat around watching the RCR driver for about 3 hours.  :confused:  CHEERS
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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2004, 13:10:00 »
No.

Mission before the Men...to put something as archaeic as a organized crime...I mean labour, in between it would pose a serious jeopardy to what capabilities we have left.

By the way, I worked with with Dutch infantrymen overseas who were **** good troops.  When we started ribbing them about their union, they said it was mainly a thing for rear ech wogs, none of them took it seriously.
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Offline Sierra Kilo

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2004, 14:21:00 »
If they unionized the army, who would break us up if we striked?  :p

The Mounties?

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2004, 20:09:00 »
What advantage could unionizing possibly bring to the table for the average serviceman?

Also, this is not a new concept:

 
Quote
While the Bundeswehr is perhaps the clearest example of a democratic military force, numerous other countries also possess features of a more humane and libertarian service, which are instructive of the possibilities here. The Swedes pioneered the ombudsman system of protecting citizens from bureaucratic abuse, and for many years they have maintained a special military ombudsman to aid servicemen. In the Netherlands soldiers have won the right to form their own unions; the Canadian armed forces are also expected to be unionized within a few years. Canada further enjoys, along with Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, a system of civilian appeals boards that employ wide review powers over the decisions of military courts and thus protect servicemen from abuses of command authority.  - David Cortright, Soldiers in Revolt; The American Military Today, 1975
And we‘ve come a long way since 1975, even without a union.

Mike

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2004, 20:15:00 »
And here‘s an another view of the effects of unionizing armies:

 
Quote
According to a February 13 Wall Street Journal report, no nation in Europe has a military that can be depended upon in time of war. "Europe‘s military muscle has grown soft," it states. Its troops are poorly equipped and poorly trained. Europe‘s technology is old and obsolete, and there is no money to upgrade it because its troops are too highly paid and enjoy lavish benefits. Indeed, many are unionized and routinely go on strike for such things as increased vacations. Like most workers in Europe, soldiers cannot be fired for incompetence and essentially have jobs for life.
Quoted in:
The Old Europe‘s Paper Armies
by Bruce Bartlett  (March 29, 2003)
  http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2586

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2004, 20:45:00 »
Isn‘t unionizing the army specifically forbidden by the NDA?
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Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2004, 13:08:00 »
Quote
Originally posted by Michael OLeary:
[qb] And we‘ve come a long way since 1975, even without a union.

Mike [/qb]
May we assume that as an officer you are speaking from a manager‘s viewpoint?  :D

No offence, but perhaps the privates and corporals are the best judge of that.  This corporal thinks there is probably no advantage to it, but we have all seen or heard of troops royally screwed by superiors that should not have done so.  I would put those down to failures in the chain of command, though, rather than a need to unionize.  And I‘ve not experienced that directly myself in close to 10 years.
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Offline gate_guard

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2004, 13:24:00 »
Quote
Originally posted by Bruce Monkhouse:
[qb]  All I know is back in 82 in Norway, a lone RCR driving a BD202? had to lug all the toboggans up one of the mountains for the company I was doing the OP for. Apparently the Norwegian drivers invoked a health and safty clause and sat around watching the RCR driver for about 3 hours.   :confused:    [/qb]
The CF unionized? Too late. Who needs to unionize when we have Mr Safety Bear and NDHQ coming up with training and operations inhibiting policies?

Offline Chop

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2004, 13:34:00 »
[/QUOTE]And we‘ve come a long way since 1975, even without a union.

Mike [/QB][/QUOTE]

I do not think we have come a long way at all, there we are half the strenght and just as many if not more missions. And as far as equipment, yes there was old equipment but it was available, now we have far fewer vehicles and are expected to do thesame job, less helicopters that are not even military versions.

Offline Chop

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2004, 13:37:00 »
QUOTENo offence, but perhaps the privates and corporals are the best judge of that.  This corporal thinks there is probably no advantage to it, but we have all seen or heard of troops royally screwed by superiors that should not have done so.  I would put those down to failures in the chain of command, though, rather than a need to unionize.  And I‘ve not experienced that directly myself in close to 10 years. [/QB][/QUOTE]

I agree with you and that was my main point, how does a private or corporal right a injustice in Canada, it did happen to me and was just told to suck it up. I do not want to suck it up any more.

Offline PikaChe

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2004, 13:50:00 »
If there‘s a problem, do a Redress of Grievance of call the Ombudsman.

Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2004, 15:59:00 »
Chop, keep in mind that a trade union is concerned with regulations affecting personnel workplace conditions and contracts, it does not dictate equipment levels or operational planning by the employer organization. My comment dealt solely within the purview of the roles of trade unions.

RHF, yes, those are some of the options available to the CF member, similar to those functions that a trade union to provide or coordinates for its own members.

Within the past decade (or so) we have seen the institution of the Ombudsman‘s office, the streamlining of the grievance process (which eliminated much of the chain of command from the process), the institution of the NIS (again separating investigative resources from the chain of command) and our harassment programs (another resource that is responsive to the member‘s needs without being influenced by the chain of command).

Mike D. - shall I assume that as an experienced officer my [managerial?] viewpoint is unwelcome? Despite the fervour of the assault on my comments, no-one has yet put forth a credible argument that a trade union would materially strengthen the CF. If only they can be expected to put forth such an opinion, are there any Privates or Corporals on the forum who can compare, from personal experience, today‘s soldier‘s existense to that of the 70s or 80s, and tell us which he/she prefers?

Mike

Offline Art Johnson

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2004, 17:25:00 »
A comment from a soldier of the 40s and 50s. When was the last time any of these unionized armies fought a battle and won. As for Jacques Chirac what does he know about anything.

Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2004, 19:15:00 »
Quote
Mike D. - shall I assume that as an experienced officer my [managerial?] viewpoint is unwelcome?
I would hate to think you honestly interpreted my comments that way.  If one were to make a decision on this matter, however, I would hope that the input of NCMs would be considered in addition to that of officers.  You haven‘t suggested that it wouldn‘t be.

 
Quote
Despite the fervour of the assault on my comments, no-one has yet put forth a credible argument that a trade union would materially strengthen the CF.
I think the majority here agree with you; those that disagree (I am not one of them) have no credible arguments to make.

 
Quote
If only they can be expected to put forth such an opinion, are there any Privates or Corporals on the forum who can compare, from personal experience, today‘s soldier‘s existense to that of the 70s or 80s, and tell us which he/she prefers?
It would appear that there aren‘t!  Let‘s hope someone comes forward.

I think the Ombudsman and more importantly, the Chain of Command, is well established and when functioning properly can oversee many problems.

I think where a Union might be of advantage is in cases like exposure to depleted uranium, PCBs (as was the case in Yugo, no?), or a Matt Stopford type case.  It is well and good to complain to an Ombudsman about sexual harrassment, but if you have to complain about exposure to PCBs, it is probably too late to have done any good, whereas a Unionized soldier would be able to say "Hey, wait a minute, mission or no mission, this is dangerous."  It is quite possible the Union - if it worked properly - would come back and say "well, operational requirements outweigh your individual concerns about biohazardous material, and we feel the risk is not overly high."  

Unions aren‘t often known to err on the side of management (or in this case, THE MISSION) however.
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Offline portcullisguy

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2004, 19:42:00 »
My personal opinion is that a unionized army would be more effective and in greater need in a country where military service was mandatory.  If they MAKE you serve, then you should have some say in the conditions under which you serve.

We have a volunteer army, and our conditions are not horrible.

Even without a union, we have a responsible environmental plan, a stringent safety policy that is reinforced from the highest levels right on down, and a response to an identified need for increased respect and sensitivity in the workplace (SHARP).  Not to mention an accessible dental and health plan, even for Reservists, a pension and reserve gratuity, and comprehensive private financial, social and personal advice program (SISIP).

I can hear the groans already, but before anyone starts slagging these programs as time-wasters, think about the long term implications of them - and similar initiatives - for a moment.

- If we utterly destroyed the environment in our training areas, they would over time become unsuitable for use, which denies their use by future generation soldiers.

- Although many CF trades have built-in safety risks (we are, afterall, soldiers, and can be ordered into battle), if our everyday work is so hazardous and unsafe that we cannot accomplish simple peacetime tasks, we are at risk of not having an effective workforce to employ in a time of need.  Since we rely on volunteers, if peopel perceive the army as "unsafe" in their routine practices, fewer people will want to join up.

- In this day and age, to not implement a program like SHARP is simply ignorant of the day‘s trends.  People are willing to push their limits and put in the extra effort if they feel that they are being respected as persons.  I‘m not saying this means no yelling at troops.  But that the same charter rights should apply. Intolerance for people based on fundamental differences such as race, religion, colour and gender have no place in Canadian society.

We have all this today, and we don‘t even have a union.  Many non-unionized workplaces do not have even these basic and simple programs in place.

If you keep your employees relatively happy, they won‘t WANT or NEED a union.

On a side note, I am neither pro- nor anti-union.  I have worked with both fuse settings.  Pro-union shops can be very much like "DELAY", as opposed to "SUPER QUICK".  My current union seems to think the sun shines out of their arse, and I am always quick to point out their shortcomings.  I appreciate the efforts they have made, but in my current situation, my union does not speak for my trade, and so many safety issues are left off the board.

As a customs officer, charged with defending the border (in a civil sense) and detecting contraband, the utter lack of safety and enforcement equipment and training is shocking.  It is like being an infantry soldier but only given a water pistol and a week‘s training to fight with.
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Offline Gunner

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2004, 20:23:00 »
One of my arguments for supporting a union would be protection of military personnel from their employer (the federal government). I am not talking in terms of harassment, etc, etc.

Successive Canadian governments have allowed and fostered the steady decline of the CF.  To wit:

a. the ongoing rust out of equipment with no end in sight;
b. a reduction of personnel in 1990s which caused a large demographic portion of CF members to stagnate fostering a general sense of alienation within the CF;
c.  The same reduction in personnel also effected our recruiting system and we now suffer from a "greying" of our military (for example, the average artillery Capt was 35 in 2000).

Government negligence has also been coupled with increasing demands on the military.  From 1991-2004 saw an unprecedented level of military deployments and operations around the globe.  This has effected our ability to train (collectively and individually) and has led to a gradual erosion in our cohesiveness as an army.  The main effect of this neglience has been on our people (particularly officers, WOs and Sr NCOs.  

Regimentally employed personnel are caught in a preparing to deploy, deploy, post deployment cycle that has effected the social contract between Canada and its soldiers.  People join to the CF for a career.  However, who is sticking up for the soldier that has done 4 or 5 tours, taskings away from home every year, attended career courses when not deployed or tasked, and try to fit in a personal life around their "career".  How much is your personal life suppose to suffer to be a soldier?  

The question becomes, how much is a soldier expected to sacrifice simply because he is a soldier.  Certainly he may be called upon to make the "ultimate sacrifice" should the time and place require it, however, this does not mean he has to sacrifice his own quality of life until that time does it?

Members of the CF don‘t have a guardian against our number one enemy, the federal government.  I am not advocating that a duly elected government does not have the right and authority to use the CF as it sees fit.  However, who is protecting the soldier from the Federal Government and who is standing up for them when they are asked to do too much?  

Who will hold the government responsible for the deaths of soldiers?  I certainly don‘t put my trust in the electorate because we keep electing bozos!

Sorry for the length of the post but unions were designed to protect the workers from the abuses of the employers.  I can not say I have ever felt that the CF has done a very good job of protecting itself from the Federal Government.  If they had, would we be in the position we are in today?

edited to get rid some of the most blatant spelling mistakes...
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Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2004, 21:25:00 »
Quote
Originally posted by Gunner:
[qb]Sorry for the length of the post [/qb]
Don‘t be absurd; I for one am greatly impressed by portcullis‘ and your posts; very thought provoking and an excellent discussion of a matter that might easily have been dismissed or turned into a non-productive thread.

Over to Michael?
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Offline Chop

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2004, 23:03:00 »
Quote
Originally posted by Gunner:
[qb]
Sorry for the length of the post  [/qb]
Well you feel the same way I do, I did not write it in words, but reading your post it is exactly how I feel.

The feeling I get is that the brass only cares for itself and we live by there wim, yes as a soldier our duty is to follow orders, but you would think they would care for our well being.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2004, 03:34:00 »
Quote
I think you should try your chain of command before you do something else.
Your right sir, it should work.  I think if we are forced to go around it, it represents a leadership problem and perhaps we as a military should have some reflections on our leadership fundamentals (ie, remember...mission-men-self)

-----

 
Quote
- In this day and age, to not implement a program like SHARP is simply ignorant of the day‘s trends. People are willing to push their limits and put in the extra effort if they feel that they are being respected as persons. I‘m not saying this means no yelling at troops. But that the same charter rights should apply. Intolerance for people based on fundamental differences such as race, religion, colour and gender have no place in Canadian society.
Like I‘ve said before, although good on paper, the policy has been taken too far to where I think it interferes with effiecency.  How can one reasonably expect to conduct stressful military activities while being in constant fear of a career killing harrassment charge...anyone with their *** in the ground will know what I am talking about.

To me, its a band aid for poor leadership.  Anyways, no good unit ever needs to resort to this policy.  A little off topic, but I wanted to rant.
------

 
Quote
Members of the CF don‘t have a guardian against our number one enemy, the federal government. I am not advocating that a duly elected government does not have the right and authority to use the CF as it sees fit. However, who is protecting the soldier from the Federal Government and who is standing up for them when they are asked to do too much?

Who will hold the government responsible for the deaths of soldiers? I certainly don‘t put my trust in the electorate because we keep electing bozos!
Once again, I‘ll peg this on the leadership.  Maybe if we had some higher ups not suffering from CRS, it would be a different story.
I wonder, would the situation be different if 20 or 30 general/flag officers handed in their "leafs" as a response to the government ignoring efforts to look out for the troops.

---------

 
Quote
A comment from a soldier of the 40s and 50s. When was the last time any of these unionized armies fought a battle and won. As for Jacques Chirac what does he know about anything.
Coming from probably the most authoritative member of the board, I find this post settles the issue for me.  Thank you for weighing in, sir.   :salute:  


How does union help us win the land battle?  The military is an old institution that has seemed to work when it is needed.  Isn‘t there other issues of more pressing concern that we could address.
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Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2004, 08:57:00 »
Infanteer - do you actually know of anyone whose career has been "killed" due to a false harrassment charge?
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Offline Gunnar

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2004, 09:16:00 »
The basic function of a union is to protect dumb guys from being exploited by management.  Ideal case is the blue collar job for an average working stiff.  He will never do any other job, so his lot in life has to be set up in such a way that more senior people can‘t take advantage of him.  This doesn‘t work in the Canadian military.

The Canadian military breeds intelligent soldiers, men who can obey orders, but are trained to ask why.  We‘re particularly good at obeying the intent of orders whilst not strictly complying with a given order.  That requires thought, or auftfragstatistik.  (Tell me if I‘m misusing this term Mike).  Unions tend to get in the way of accomplishing anything in a quick manner, bring in the socialist element, and quite often defy common sense.  A good example of this is the teaching industry, where they have a powerful union with their mandated breaks and built-in protections, and it allows for such blatant featherbedding (and allows teachers to push their own political agendas instead of TEACHING) that the Canadian educational system is toast.  We were once on a par with British education and significantly better than the US educational system, but this is no longer the case.  Now we have parents complaining that a literacy test discriminates against those with learning disabilities and language issues...ummm....isn‘t it a test of literacy?  If you‘re slow or have other reasons why you can‘t speak, write or read the language...wouldn‘t that imply illiteracy....?

Sure, the Union isn‘t to blame for all of that, but Unions foster an environment where "trying" is seen to be just as good as "accomplishing", where everyone is allowed to accept weakness as an excuse, and self-esteem is much more important than the goals of the organization.

And that‘s going to keep me safe in my warm comfy bed?

Besides, in a way, you already have a Union.  Your steward is called Sgt. Major.  He‘s supposed to be the head ‘working stiff‘, and the officers are ‘management‘.  Any officer who doesn‘t listen to the Sgt. Major is a fool, and will not last with the men, especially in a war situation where accidents happen with live fire all the time...

See, Unions were based largely on Marx‘s idea of class struggle.  The military system, with its built in "classes" functions that way by default.  This is why the men in our military have accomplished so much with so little, in spite of the butt-snorkelling petty bureaucrats who wear officer uniforms - because the "working class" has to some extent insulated itself from the excess stupidity of the "ruling class", and continues to do things in a tried and true way.
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Offline Gunner

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2004, 20:21:00 »
Quote
The feeling I get is that the brass only cares for itself and we live by there wim, yes as a soldier our duty is to follow orders, but you would think they would care for our well being.  
Chop, I don‘t agree with your comments at all.  While there is deadwood at every rank level, for the most part, I have always been impressed by the level of commitment by many senior officers.  The level of support (or caring) by senior officers is very good. The idea that you live by "their whim" is ridiculous.

 
Quote
Once again, I‘ll peg this on the leadership. Maybe if we had some higher ups not suffering from CRS, it would be a different story.
I wonder, would the situation be different if 20 or 30 general/flag officers handed in their "leafs" as a response to the government ignoring efforts to look out for the troops.  
Infanteer, many general‘s and admirals have handed in their "leafs" in response to Federal decisions.  Google search Admiral Landymore and the Admirals Revolt. What about Admiral Anderson our short lived CDS?  What about all of the army generals in the 90s that retired to protest government decisions (MGen Vernon, etc). Why can‘t you name one of these good men who could not continue serving?  Quite simply the media and people do not care about the military which is how the government continues to underfund us.  Look at Cretin a couple of years ago mocking retired generals and their inability to "speak up" until they retired.  Infanteer, if you don‘t like the way the CF is running why don‘t you turn in your corporal stripes? /B]

 
Quote
A comment from a soldier of the 40s and 50s. When was the last time any of these unionized armies fought a battle and won. As for Jacques Chirac what does he know about anything.
Coming from probably the most authoritative member of the board, I find this post settles the issue for me. Thank you for weighing in, sir.    
Gents, sorry but this is simplistic reasoning in the extreme.  Victory in the 40s was based on the success of the Russian armies on the Eastern Front not from the inherent strenght of Canadian Battalions ability to impinge on the rights of its soldiers.

 
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 How does union help us win the land battle? The military is an old institution that has seemed to work when it is needed. Isn‘t there other issues of more pressing concern that we could address.
Infanteer, a union could help right the wrongs inflicted upon our organization.  It is beyond the capability of anyone in the CF and without external influences it won‘t be fixed.  The Canadian army has never been prepared for conflict and if we don‘t get our act together, we never will.  Leadership can‘t change a politicians or bureaucrats mind about funding, personnel levels, resourcing, etc, etc.  

 
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 butt-snorkelling petty bureaucrats who wear officer uniforms - because the "working class" has to some extent insulated itself from the excess stupidity of the "ruling class", and continues to do things in a tried and true way.
Geez, you have to be kidding me comrade!  There obviously isn‘t any stupidity in the "working class".   :rolleyes:
Had a wonderful ~26 years in the military and still miss it.

Offline Michael Dorosh

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Re: Unionize Canadian Armed Forces
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2004, 21:10:00 »
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Originally posted by Gunnar:
The basic function of a union is to protect dumb guys from being exploited by management.
As someone who is both university educated and who has been aided by his union in a recent dispute, I take offence at that.  It‘s not even remotely true.


 
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Ideal case is the blue collar job for an average working stiff.  He will never do any other job, so his lot in life has to be set up in such a way that more senior people can‘t take advantage of him.
My job is white collar.

 
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The Canadian military breeds intelligent soldiers, men who can obey orders, but are trained to ask why.  We‘re particularly good at obeying the intent of orders whilst not strictly complying with a given order.  That requires thought, or auftfragstatistik.  (Tell me if I‘m misusing this term Mike).
Sounds good to me...

 
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 Unions tend to get in the way of accomplishing anything in a quick manner, bring in the socialist element, and quite often defy common sense.  A good example of this is the teaching industry, where they have a powerful union with their mandated breaks and built-in protections, and it allows for such blatant featherbedding (and allows teachers to push their own political agendas instead of TEACHING) that the Canadian educational system is toast.
You have a problem with mandated breaks?  I work in a hospital with employees of two different unions, and common sense is allowed to apply - no one measures breaks to the second, and there is give and take - it all depends on the manager and the employees, and how happy they are in their work.  Many RNs and LPNs volunteer time when needed.  It would probably be that way in a unionized Canadian Army, too.   I don‘t agree with the comment about teachers getting to push their own personal agenda; doesn‘t match what I have heard from my teacher friends here in Alberta.


 
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See, Unions were based largely on Marx‘s idea of class struggle.  The military system, with its built in "classes" functions that way by default.  This is why the men in our military have accomplished so much with so little, in spite of the butt-snorkelling petty bureaucrats who wear officer uniforms - because the "working class" has to some extent insulated itself from the excess stupidity of the "ruling class", and continues to do things in a tried and true way.
You‘re way too wrapped up in what you THINK a union is, and not well versed at all in how they operate.
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