Given the very high level of interest people have had in this previous discussion of the OC Transpo strike and unions in general (78 comments so far), it seemed worth initiating a second discussion on the matter. Since the union is saying that the major purpose of this strike is to retain the right to have bus routes assigned on the basis of seniority, the general issue of seniority and unions seems to be worth considering.
There do seem to be some valid reasons for supporting higher pay and greater privileges for more senior individuals. Among those are the issue of experience, which those who are senior to an organization can be expected to have in greater amounts, and perhaps the facilitation of standard lifestyle transitions: from youth to adult life, and from that to retirement.
At the same time, there seem to be valid reasons to oppose perks based on seniority. In situations where something worth rewarding is often correlated with seniority, but can be measured easily, it seems to make sense to measure and reward it directly. That way, rather than assuming that ten years on the job makes you more capable, you can reward those who actually demonstrate capability in a day-to-day manner. Another argument is that basing a large share of pay and benefits on seniority rewards the mediocre at the expense of the excellent. Those who are very active and engaged get paid no better than those who perform the minimum obligations of the job. Aside from providing a disincentive for talented people to be part of the organization, that seems basically unfair.
I am not disputing the freedom of unions and employers to negotiate whatever terms seem best to them. I am simply seeking to open a discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of favouring seniority: from the perspective of union members, management, and those who consume the products of services the union members and management provide.