Anti-union sentiment amongst the Canadian populace is strong, and getting stronger. Listening to the radio during my drive, most callers are quite vehement in their denouncement of unions, and any public money supporting companies with unionized labour.
CBC Radio was asking the question, "During tough economic times, should unions scale back their demands and even accept wage roll backs?"
Boy, is that an unfair question. First of all, it assumes unions are making unreasonable demands right now. Secondly, it unfairly targets an identifiable demographic within Canadian society and implies there's some unfair practices happening.
Should unions scale back demands? Depends. How is the company doing? Not all companies are failing. Are the white collar non-union employees getting above average raises and benefits? If they are, then the union membership should too.
Its all about averages. What is the average in the industry and related industries? How fair is the salary distribution within the organization? These (and probably other) questions determine the viability of any salary/benefit negotiation.
To castigate unions as an evil that must be punished (which some of the rhetoric suggests) is unfair to the workers and their families. If we force pay cuts where none is warranted, then we risk pushing families into bankruptcy. That is a clear case of the cure being worse than the disease.