Doing a little catch-up here after a week of long-distance travel on short notice. Scott Gillard, constituency assistant to MLA Howard Epstein, objected to the inference I drew from a brief first-contract strike at Summer Street Industries in New Glasgow, where professional union negotiators pursued rigid workplace rules with wilful indifference to the rights and sensibilities of the developmentally challenged men and women that organization serves. The CUPE functionaries failed, thanks in part to pushback from their own members. Had the NDP government's first-contract arbitration had been in place, I suggested, an arbitrator ignorant of disabilities issues could have effectively wrecked a wonderful non-profit organization. Gillard calls this the "my cousin Louise" argument:
No matter how valid the legislation, in this case, may be there will always be someone (my cousin Louise) who can share an exception to its effectiveness. I think it is a red herring. To oppose Bill 102 on the basis that, in a specific situation, it would not have served its intended purpose is a bit much. [caption id="attachment_9103" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Darrell Dexter - Throwing a bone (Tim Krochak phot/Chronicle-Herald)"][/caption] You may have been able to provide and example of an exception to the benefit of the legislation but whether you are right or wrong on the implications of the legislation in this situation is irrelevant. Finding a specific situation where something may not work falls short of making a convincing case in opposition. Good legislation is hopefully the goal of government. No government assumes their legislation is perfect. Frankly, it's just this type of argument that reminds us of the complexity of a government's legislative agenda. There's always going to be a "my cousin Louise" type exception.
Gillard has a point. I was arguing from a very specific, though not unique, set of facts. and they have limited application to disputes involving conventional businesses. To be completely honest, I saw the first contract arbitration issue as an opportunity to lay out the disgraceful behaviour of a union that thinks of itself as progressive. But what's the case for Bill 102? What bad situation will it remedy?. Union people say over and over that collective bargaining works in Nova Scotia. For the most part, I think they are right. Why not let it play out? Why impose settlements on unwilling parties? After the jump, Gillard responds:

I might have been in favor of the NDP Government's first-contract legislation if I hadn't seen what the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) did to a progressive non-profit organization in New Glasgow this fall. Founded in 1968 by volunteers and family members, New Glasgow's Summer Street Industries supplies a variety of vocational services to 150 intellectually handicapped men and women in New Glasgow. It enjoys a stellar reputation for caring and respectful treatment of the people it assists. If the Dexter Government's first contract legislation had been in force this year, those very qualities would have been sabotaged, perhaps fatally. The...