Tag Archives: strikes

Don’t Let Mother Strike – Fire Her Instead

By Jason Menard

The mother who’s fed up and can’t take it anymore, pitching a tent on her front lawn and declaring that she’s on strike from parenting shouldn’t be allowed to walk out – she should be fired!

Complaining that her children are unruly, disrespectful, and unwilling to help out around the house, she chooses to stage a grandstanding display for the masses deftly attempting to deflect the blame from where it should lie – herself.

Now, let me state that I know intimately how difficult it is for a single mother to make a go of it in today’s world. But I also know there are many single mothers – and fathers – out there who are making it work. They’re able to be proud of their children and these kids are often more responsible and dedicated that their colleagues from two-parent homes.

I also know unruly kids who, despite living with two parents, are veritable hellions – destructive, uncontrollable, and unpleasant to be around.

And in both cases, the majority of the blame falls to the parent or parents.

Kids need boundaries. Parents want to be their kids’ friends and not come across as the bad guy. The two don’t always mix. Sometimes parenting’s difficult, sometimes it downright sucks. And there’s nothing worse than having to see the sadness or disappointment in your child’s eyes when they’ve had a much-anticipated event or gift taken away for poor behaviour.

It breaks your heart. But it’s also part of the tempering process that will forge our children into responsible adults. Sometimes, you just have to say no – as much as you want to give your children everything and anything they desire, to do so doesn’t teach them the realities of life.

My wife and I aren’t perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. To some we may be considered strict, in that our kids are severely restricted in their activities on school days. And if requested tasks aren’t completed, then playtime is postponed. Oh, and TV, video games, and computer time? A maximum allotment each day.

Is it easy? Of course not. It’s hard to make a 12-year-old see the value of dedicating time to homework while his friends, often from the same class, are out playing in the street in front of him. And while their parents may not see the value of putting their kids to bed early, we know that our kids need a set amount of sleep. If that means going to bed earlier than their friends do (or, more likely, say they do) then so be it. We’ll be the bad guy.

In any case – and this includes our own children – negative behaviour can be traced to parenting decisions. And once a behaviour is ingrained, whether it be coming out of bed repeatedly at night or refusing to sit at the dinner table to eat, it only gets harder to change as they get older. After all, if the children have been conditioned to accept one reality, why should it come as a surprise that they’re resistant to changes to their status quo?

Sympathetic to the plight of the single mother, her status does not allow her to abdicate her role as a parent. However, her lack of judgment is apparent in her reference to the state of her kids’ rooms (I’m sure people through whose homes Hurricane Katrina did go through would love to switch places, even today).

Sure, you can say the kids are old enough to know better. But if you’ve grown up all your life being told that blue is green, why should you be expected to believe otherwise just because of a calendar? These kids have grown up with behaviour that’s been accepted to this point, so is it their fault that they behave selfishly?

Unfortunately, empathy comes later in life. As we get older, we are able to look back and appreciate more the travails we put our parents through. But as children, adolescents, and teenagers, we live in a world that’s very small – it revolves around us and our friends. It is only through the restrictions and guides that our parents set that we develop into well-rounded adults, capable of accepting responsibility and making sound decisions. If we’re not taught that, then whose fault is it?

If this mother didn’t want her house to turn into a pig sty, then perhaps she should have made her kids clean the room. If they refused, then luxuries would be restricted. If they continued to refuse, then there would be consequences – certainly one that wouldn’t involve a foosball table. It may be hard, it may require patience and stubbornness, but eventually the delineation between parent and child, rule-maker and rule-follower would have been set. No one ever said parenting is easy – and it isn’t. But the rewards in the end far outweigh the challenges.

Instead, this striking mother has chosen to teach her children another lesson. One where when life gets too tough, or you don’t get your way, instead of working through it together in a rational manner, you simply give up and walk away from your responsibilities.

Forget a strike. This should be a lockout.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

An Approved Form of Hostage Taking?

By Jason Menard

Mar. 8, 2006 — In general, we don’t negotiate with terrorists that take hostages, even if it means risking the lives of those being held captive. So, with that being said, why do we continue to condone and validate the use of strike tactics by unions as an effective way to earn concessions at the bargaining table, when all they’re doing is holding the public hostage for their own demands?

Now, I’m not comparing the average union member to your average Al Qaeda member, but the mentality behind the negotiations for both should be the same. In international politics, the idea of cutting deal with hostage-takers is universally panned due to the fact that once you’ve caved into one terrorist, the flood gates will open as the tactic will now be viewed as an effective way to get what you want. So, no matter how painful it may be, we refuse to give into terrorists and do our best to prove that hostage-taking is counterproductive.

So why do we treat picketers any different? Is it because they’re our friends and family? They’re regular Joes and Janes like us? Is it because we can sympathize with their cause and have a latent mistrust for Big Business? In the end, are their tactics any different?

Why not ask the college students of Ontario if they currently feel their futures are being held hostage for someone else’s gain? How about the people of Ontario who sat on pins and needles wondering whether or not the public employees would walk out and leave them with piled-up garbage? And let’s not forget the citizens of London, ON who were faced with a one-day walkout of the emergency room doctors back in December.

All in all, it adds up to one group of citizens impacting another group of citizens for something they’re not directly involved in. For students who have enough stress in their lives, they don’t need to be wondering whether their work to date will be in vain. Yet, the union feels that these students are effective pawns in their high-stakes game of chess.

And why not? In the end, management or the government will cave, they’ll go back to the table, and concessions will be made. Strike tactics will be once again validated and the gun will go back in the holster one more time, ready to be drawn at the next labour impasse.

From an outsiders’ perspective it seems that unions of all stripes are all-too-willing to play the strike card early on in the negotiations, whether or not it’s valid. In the case of the public employees’ threatened strike, we were looking at an illegal action that ended up getting rewarded by forcing the sides back to the table.

Perhaps illegal means something different in Unionese. I know if I do something illegal, there are punishments and ramifications. Apparently if a union member does something illegal, they get rewarded for their actions. It just doesn’t seem right.

There are those who say that unions have had their day and they’ve overstayed their welcome. Despite my frustration with holding the public hostage for strikes, I don’t agree with that assessment. Unions do have their place to ensure that employees are being treated fairly in their place of work. They also have a mandate to represent their members fairly and responsibly. The role of the union may have to change. Do the laid-off workers at Ford in St. Thomas feel that the concessions they earned in the past were worth where they are now? How do the union leaders keep their jobs, while their charges are forced to find employment elsewhere?

As a whole, today’s citizen is more media-savvy and aware than ever before. Through the information explosion, we are privy to more information, more quickly, and from more sources. We are better informed to form our own opinion and unions must use the power of public opinion to their benefit.

Be aggressive with your campaigning to curry the favour of the public and they will support you in your efforts. Make us the king-makers in negotiations and we’ll fight for you. Use the public as nothing more than pawns in this negotiating chess game and you’ll find that the gavel wielded by the court of public opinion will come down hard.

Times have changed, the global marketplace has changed, and it’s time that unions change with it. Taking the public hostage should no longer be an effective way to gain concessions. But until a government or employer decides to stand up for principle, then the average citizen is always at risk of becoming a pawn.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Hell No! We Won’t Go

By Jason Menard

Here’s a phrase that should be familiar to the strikers and protesters who have been dominating the headlines lately: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more.”

However, instead of being a rallying cry for us to get behind the oppressed workers, it now is a mantra echoed by the disenfranchised masses who are tired of having their needs held hostage for the betterment of someone else. It is painfully clear that the art of negotiation is one craft that’s in dire need of refining.

In what’s becoming an alarming trend, unions and protest groups have become so myopic that they have managed to do the one thing that seemed unpalatable to any of us left-leaning folk just a few short years ago – they’ve got us rooting for the big guys.

Whether it is teachers holding our kids’ education for ransom, tobacco farmers impeding traffic on major thoroughfares, or even millionaire hockey players rolling the dice on labour negotiations and crapping out, the majority of us are firmly on the side of the employers.

So the greater public, who generally struggle to make ends meet and put a little extra away for a rainy day, sides with The Man, while those with whom we would normally have the most affinity receive little to no sympathy. To review: an unholy alliance involving the School Board, the Government, and Billionaire Big-Business Owners are the good guys. But hard-working teachers, farmers living on the edge, and regular guys who are playing a game we’d give our right arm to play are on the biting edge of our venomous words.

And why is that? Because today’s unions and protest groups have neglected the most important part of public relations – the public.

It is our nature as humans to root for the underdog. The better part of our socialist tendencies comes out in support of the worker, and our natural inclination is to side with them. However, what unions and protest groups have done is taken the battle outside of the boardrooms, moved it beyond the picket lines, and brought it right to our doorstep.

How’s my son doing in school? I don’t know, because there are no report cards to follow his progress. And that’s just the tip of the work-to-rule iceberg. What comes next? No homework, nothing beyond the black and white in teaching? Well, who is really suffering? Not the administration, not the teachers, but our children who are losing valuable education time as pawns in this squabble.

Perhaps you’re one of those who likes to honk in support of strikers and protesters as you make your way to work. But, with highways clogged with vehicles barricading the route in the name of protest, you’re more likely to be honking out of frustration than fellowship. And let’s not get to the hockey players. Really, they’ve botched the public relations aspect of their negotiation from the get-go.

So what’s the common thread? Each of these groups has chosen tactics that inconvenience the very people whose support they are trying to engender. Public opinion is an exceptionally strong component of any successful negotiation, and big businesses will do whatever it takes to avoid the backlash brought about by negative press and negative public sentiment. However, by alienating the very people that these groups should reach out to, they’ve effectively strengthened their adversaries’ positions and exhausted whatever goodwill the public may have felt at the start of their conflict.

The worst part about this is that the majority of us initially agreed with the employees’ positions. We know teachers are underpaid for the service they provide and should be better compensated for their preparation time. We know that a farmer’s success is precarious at best and we would like to see our government support them better. We know that there’s a big pot of money out there for hockey players and they’re entitled to their share. But, through their lack of political savvy and abuse of the public trust, these groups have separated the issues from their protest.

What it comes down to is that protest and negotiation must enter a new age. We are a much more media-savvy marketplace, and strong-arm tactics that negatively impact us don’t work. Unions and advocacy groups need to be more creative in developing strategies to get their message out, because the public is more accessible than ever. Use humour, appeal to our sensibilities, use all the resources our multi-media world has to offer, but don’t use tactics that are designed to inconvenience us.

In today’s world the old tactics no longer work. The message tends to get buried when all you want to do is shoot the messenger.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved