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  • Winnipeg Tribune

Have Working Class Voters Turned Against Unions?

Sunday, August 27, 2023 - The seemingly-averted Liquor and Lotteries union strike was pretty unpopular, but not in ways you'd necessarily think.

The obvious opponents/critics of the interruption in the flow of booze in Manitoba were those who enjoyed a regular inculcation of liquid libation.

They are the core customers of the MLLC empire, and the spectre of closed retail outlets, limited supply and long lines at the remaining outlets personally affected them. Some were undoubtedly sympathetic at the outset to the plight of labour and may have become more so after hearing about the wage issues, etc.

Bars and restaurants were affected, and their customers as well. Rural retail sales spots were run off their feet as city folk came out to partake, so there weren't many negative effects. It seems as if everyone made their money and got their beer.

However, the speed with which the union agreed to take a new proposal to a vote has served to confirm in the minds of some people that the labour action was all politically motivated to damage the PC's and bring advantage to the NDP. They discount that the presence of a mediator hastened an agreeable conclusion.

That doesn't mean they are right, but it does mean they think it was all theatre. That won't help the NDP at all.

(Neither will MPI's pre-strike offer to immediately move to voluntary arbitration and fork out employee raises and an $1800 payment. It will be hard to get sympathy from the public with that 0n the table.)

Although the MLLC deal, likely to be voted for by the 1400 members, includes a 12% graduated wage increase, there's a vocal disdain for the deal among people with no union and no guaranteed work during the COVID restrictions, unlike government unionized employees.

Working class, self-employed, small business operators, it's the 'struggling to be middle class' class ... those are voters who suffered through (and after) the pandemic and don't necessarily buy that the government workers deserve a raise when they can't get caught up to what was lost.

The distrust of unions has grown to the point of disdain when the phrase' union endorsed' is touted as news of any significance.

Reporters love it because, for them, it's an easily regurgitated press release; the NDP loves it because it's free publicity.

Increasingly, the public is seeing through a "Union says" scenario that serves those two entities. When the public sees the highly touted Nurse's rally draws 50 people out of a membership of 8000- they ask, where were the NDP candidates? Where were the union members? The media contingent almost outnumbered the rally itself.

Meanwhile, struggling voters see clerks who scan white claws get 12% and MPI call-takers get 17% and wonder why the unions are more important than they are to the media and the NDP. Recent polls show public trust in both has slipped. Perception becomes a reality.

What are your thoughts?

Please send your comments to and they will be shared in our opinion section. Your voice matters.

Opinions expressed by Marty Gold do not necessarily reflect those of the Winnipeg or any affiliated partners.


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