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Union Fines

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On May 7, 2009 the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the applications for leave to appeal lower court losses of two unions, in two provinces. These unions had lost lower court rulings against collecting their fines in court. Unionized workers had exercised their right to work, at their own jobs, and crossed picket lines to do so only to be taken to court by their own union.

LabourWatch had the privilege of being of service to a number of these employees and their lawyers.

While hundreds and hundreds were prosecuted by both unions, two specific cases wound up at the Supreme Court of Canada last year and this year.

We commend the employees who held their union leaders to account by working and for not buckling to the intimidating tactics their union leaders deployed without a legal basis for doing so.

These cases demonstrate the inappropriate power imbalance between union leaders and unionized workers. It is time for reforms, requiring by law a percentage of all union dues go into legal aid funds in each jurisdiction. These funds would enable workers to both defend themselves against union persecution as well as enable employees to effectively file legal actions against unions.

In Saskatchewan, unionized workers under the provincial labour code can be fined for crossing picket lines. LabourWatch is not aware of any other place in the world where such laws exist. The Trade Union Act overrides the common law protection against collection of fines in court. These sections need to be repealed.

LabourWatch is currently working on new FAQ's to help explain union fines across Canada.

See Related Press, for media coverage of union fines

See Related Law, for a copy of Canadian court rulings against union use of the courts to intimidate unionized Canadians.

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