Fantasy sector unions
Ontarians are currently witness to three compelling labour stories - one in the public sector with the teachers, one in the private sector with the CAW, and a third in the fantasy sector with the NHL.
While I side with province on the issue of a wage freeze for the teachers (Note to teachers - everyone involved in making a mess, should help clean up the mess. This was taught to me in the old half-day kindergarten. If you live in this province, we all should share in cleaning up the provincial deficit. Not just those in the private sector who suffered massive layoffs and pay cuts. All those in the provincial public sector who've been laid off in the last five years, please step forward. Exactly.), I'm leaning more to the CAW in their talks with the big three. I know the companies need greater cost certainty but they now have profit certainty. That's different from the province's situation. If the Big 3 were going through the crisis from three years ago, you could see the company's position as having the upper hand. Yes, Canada has become a higher cost labour jurisdiction, but we also have some of the most productive plants in the world.
When you look at the size of both unions, you can quickly grasp the importance of resolving their disputes. There are over one hundred thousand teachers in the province and they instruct over two million students. It's easy to see why they have some clout within the government. The CAW represents 20,000 workers in Ontario and according to Moody's, a shutdown of just one week would result in a quarter-percentage point off our GDP. Which sounds small, until you realize that it means over $360-million per week. For our fragile recovery, the Canadian economy needs this to be settled.
Which brings me to the NHL and their lockout of the NHLPA. This is the fantasy sector labour story. Can I put a pox on both their houses? The NHL and the players are a few percentage points apart on how to divide $3.2-billion in annual revenues. It's a case of billionaires vs. millionaires, and of course it means the fans, the ones who pay all the bills through television and tickets, are left out.
Considering the front page placement of the story in Canada, you'd think this was a big deal. But business-wise, this is small potatoes. Really small potatoes. According to Forbes Magazien, the 500th largest company according to revenue in 2012 is Molina Healthcare. They bring in $4.8-billion. They run a string of inner-city health clinics in the Western United States and operate as an HMO. No, I haven't heard of then either. But think about it - the 500th largest company in North America brings in 50% more revenue than the entire NHL. As I said before, very small potatoes.
The teachers in this province mean something. The CAW produces something that means something. The NHL and the players hopefully understand that they're simply in the entertainment business and we can easily take our attention, and money, elsewhere.