WHY I BECAME A “SCAB”

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At the beginning of the movement, unions served a valuable purpose. Through their organizing efforts, they compelled employers to make the workplaces safer, pay overtime, and give workers paid vacations. Even Labour Day was a result of the recognition by governments of the value workers give to society.

As time passed, unions became greedy. For example, they coerced workers to join and pay dues. That was the case with the Public Servants Alliance of Canada (PSAC). When I became employed with the Canadian governments Airports Branch of Transport Canada, a Parliamentary regulation automatically deducted union dues from my pay cheque. Even though we didn’t have a shop steward and nobody even told me that, each employee had to pay dues.

Though I participated in a lunchtime picket at Edmonton’s Federal Building during contract negotiations in 1987, the union took no notice of my participation. I complained about this lack of interaction at a meeting but nothing was done.

Then in September of 1991, Treasury Board offered us employees a zero percent raise for the first year of the new contract, three percent for the second year, and three percent for the third. PSAC leader, Daryl Bean, thought that was too small and called a strike.

Having weighed the matter, I realized that zero, three, and three was actually generous. Canada was in a recession and many private companies were laying off staff. Consequently, I refused to join the picket line.

I felt nervous as I approached the picket line on the first day of the walk-out. As I stood facing the strikers, one woman said, “If you try to break through the line, you’ll be charged with assault.” I backed off and waited for management to help me cross. As I and a group of workers were escorted through the picket line, the strikers shouted “Scab! Scab!” at us. This continued for several days.

Then one of the management people told us to have breakfast at a restaurant, or do something else, to pass the time until the picket line disbursed at 9:00 A.M. I took their advice and had a tasty meal at a local restaurant. Since I enjoyed that experience, I ate breakfast there for several more days. I quit going to that restaurant after a week as it became too expensive to continue eating out.

The strike ended after the second week when Daryl Bean agreed to negotiate with Treasury board. But that wasn’t the end of the matter. Like the Pharaoh in the book of Exodus, Bean hardened his heart and called for another strike. By then, I was on vacation leave so the strike didn’t threaten me. When I returned to work, I learned that PSAC settled for zero, zero, and zero percent raises for the next three years. I felt outraged. The union that claimed to be so concerned about us workers lost us a total of six percent in annual wages.

To add insult to my financial injury, the PSAC blackballed me. I learned of it in  a registered letter  in May of 1992. I still had dues deducted from my pay, yet I couldn’t be represented by the union. By that time, I didn’t care about their pseudo-representation.

After being put on disability in 1995, I became a freelance writer and author. My first two paperbacks are featured on the Bruce Atchison’s books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers in e-book and paperback.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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