I’ve been watching the Canada Post labor dispute from afar over Twitter and saw the back-to-work bill pass on third reading. Does that mean the dispute is over? I don’t think so…

Neither the government, nor the union, nor Canada Post seems to have looked into the constitutional implications of the bill and, while CPUW president said they’ll be back to work, they’ll be likely to litigate.

Of course, there’s still an arbitration process to go through as well and, if that doesn’t go the way Canada Post wants it to go, they could litigate as well. Either of those litigations might strike down the bill and bring a strike and/or lock-out back into the picture.

Was Harper right when he said: “The real problem is the double monopoly in postal service. The government gives post office management a monopoly over Canadians’ mail, and then Canada Post gives CUPW union bosses the labour monopoly power to shut the service down… Only ending the monopoly will ensure that Canadians are never held hostage by another postal strike.” and did he, in fact, attack that double monopoly with this bill? If so, was he right in doing so?

I am not a fan of labor unions myself: I think collective bargaining can seriously get in the way of individual bargaining and can thus cost both the individual worker and the economy as a whole more than it’s worth. Granting Canada Post a monopoly on mail delivery (excluding packages) with the added constraints it has (federally regulated minimum service requirement, for example) is probably a good thing, though I would like to see what, say, FedEx or UPS would offer if that monopoly was put up for auction. Granting CUPW a monopolistic right to shut the service down is, IMHO, a bad idea.

So yeah, Harper was probably right back in 1997. I’m not sure he’s going about dealing with the problem the right way, though, but I think the problem is there to be dealt with.