Editorial

Unions forsake blind loyalty— a lesson for others too

June 7 1958
Editorial

Unions forsake blind loyalty— a lesson for others too

June 7 1958

Unions forsake blind loyalty— a lesson for others too

Editorial

A l I II1-. RISK of sounding like ;i black reactionary, we suggest that the dispute between the ( PR and its firemen has served one good end. It has dealt a much-needed blow to the notion that blind, uncritical loyalty among unions or within any other segment ol the body politic is a virtue in itself.

Not long ago the ancient code of solidarity would have compelled every other union in Canada to give unqualified support to the firemen. It would not have mattered that their object was to maintain unneeded men in unnecessary jobs, thus inevitably raising the transportation costs ol the public at large. Regardless of the real issues, most of organized labor would have seen the paramount issue as a struggle between labor and the bosses. Many unions would have been prepared to strike in sympathy with the firemen as a fellow union, even while being utterly out of sympathy with their cause.

It is to the credit of labor that nothing of the sort happened this time. Nearly all unions elected to weigh the real issues on their merits; they gave the firemen little support or encouragement in their threatened strike. And in following this maiuic and reasoned course, we maintain, they did not "betray their fellow unionists; on the contrary they tried to dissuade them from a reckless blunder that could have led them, and to some extent the rest ol labor, into a great disaster.

There are many other special groups within this complicated society—professional groups, business ¿roups, employers' groups, political groups. Few ol them have been so consistently wise or broad ot vision that they too cannot with profit re-examine the fatuous and often dangerous credo of my union rieht or wrong, my association right or wrong, my party right or wrong.

This kind of unthinking, automatic loyalty to some particular interest not only comes as a rule inti) eonlliet with the general interest; it very often defeats its own ends. Who can say the supine loyalty of the Liberal Party to itself and its leaders during the last twenty years was not a major cause of its own downfall? Who can say that medicine, law and other professions have really advanced their own or the public's ends by their tendency to close ranks in the face of almost any breath of public criticism of their members? Who can say the nation's Chambers of Commerce. Boards of Trade and similar associations might not have better served their own interests by spending a little less energy attacking the "enemies" of business and a little more energy repairing its deficiencies?

Loyalty is one of the noblest of all human qualities. But when it deliberately shuts its eyes to the facts of life, when it sets one class or cadre against another with no regard for common sense or consequence. then it becomes no more than another pathetic and self-defeating folly.