May 16, 2016

Workfare not welfare: How “Buck’s Brigades” beat the union bullies and beautified a town

David MenziesMission Specialist

As the snow recedes across Canada, we’re greeted by the sight of green grass, colourful flowers, and tons of litter. Coke cans, Big Mac wrappers, Timmy’s cups -- vacant lots become makeshift garbage dumps.

Just imagine if we had some people with little to do who could help pick up that litter and take part in civic beautification programs like graffiti-removal? Oh, wait. We do!

Canada has thousands of welfare recipients and recently Syrian refugees, busy doing nothing. Why not let them earn their state-sanctioned payola? Workfare instead of welfare?

It was done in Kenora by ex-boxer Buck Matiowski who thirteen years ago founded a program enlisting vagrants, panhandlers and the homeless to clean up litter, peel posters off light standards, whitewash graffiti and collect bottles. They became known as Buck’s Brigade and helped beautify Kenora.

What’s not to love?

Well, enter the Grinch-like Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 191 who tried to stop the program by falsely claiming Matiowski was taking away union jobs. In fact, Matiowski had simply created new jobs that didn’t previously exist.

Watch my report for the full story of how a little creative thinking, knowledge of human nature and free market principles combined to fix a problem in a way that benefited all.

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commented 2016-05-17 09:55:59 -0400
commented 2016-05-17 01:22:47 -0400
Work fare is awesome. Great post David.
commented 2016-05-16 23:29:57 -0400
In a small town you have a chance, that’s why the politicians amalgamated most regions.
commented 2016-05-16 22:54:42 -0400
Simple solutions aren’t allowed anymore, its pathetic.
commented 2016-05-16 22:42:35 -0400
for all you posters here bashing unions what you fail to post is that these are PUBLIC sector unions, i was in operating engineers 115c for over 34 years and we had to worry about job losses and lay offs and no wage increases like every other worker when times were bad ,we had work share to avoid lay offs and keep people working as opposed to the public sector who never seem to suffer the real world problems of the economy
commented 2016-05-16 13:48:14 -0400
every year in the spring we in our neighborhood do a lane clean up where home owner and civic minded people gather to do the WORK FOR FREE JUST TO KEEP OUR NIEGHBORHOOD CLEAN AND SAFE
enough said
commented 2016-05-16 11:57:49 -0400
I’m curious to know where Buck obtained the $8/hr that he was paying the people in his brigades.

I’m not remotely surprised that a union tried to block the program. Several years ago, I remember reading about a public school in BC that had a very active program of social activities, sports, tutoring etc. that was done entirely by parent volunteers. The union raised a stink, declaring that these jobs could only be done by union members and they had their way. The end result was that the school board couldn’t afford to hire people at union wages to do those jobs so the program was stopped in its entirety and all those programs and activities simply vanished. The union greatly lowered the quality of that school for the sake of its own greed.

One other thing. While I’m sympathetic to the idea of involving those who are homeless or on welfare in community beautification projects like those described in the video, I think there is going to be a considerable reluctance to create such programs for one simple reason: liability issues. What if one of the people coaxed into the program gets injured as they do the work that has been assigned to them? For instance, let’s say someone is picking up roadside litter and they get hit by an inattentive motorist? Who pays the medical bills for the injured person? What if someone is picking up litter and gets jabbed with a needle and gets HIV as a result? Who pays for that? Etc. etc. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but I guarantee that city attorneys will be VERY concerned about such matters and the fear of expensive litigation and/or medical treatment may very well kill the whole idea even if the union doesn’t.
commented 2016-05-16 09:30:55 -0400
I agree they should have to preform these duties in order to receive welfare. They need to contribute and help too, because the rest of us aren’t laying about doing nothing, and getting paid for it as these people are. Don’t give them their cheques, until they turn in their time sheets, to prove they have earned it. When you just keep throwing money at those who aren’t contributing, it turns into to dead weight for society, and then anger at the waste and unfairness, for catering to a specific race.
commented 2016-05-16 09:29:08 -0400
What a suprise, the union wants a monopoly. Go figure.