Co-Op Refinery strike heads to court

by Truck News-West

REGINA, Sask. – After a labor dispute at Regina, Sask.’s Co-Op Refinery Complex resulted in the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) to say picket lines were creating “trucking industry hazards,” a judge has put restrictions on picketing unionized workers locked out of the facility.

With around 800 workers locked out of the refinery after union representative Unifor Local 594 issued a strike notice, Co-Op Refinery claimed picketing workers were engaging in dangerous behavior, including blocking truck traffic, and has filed an injunction.

And fleets servicing the complex appear to be stuck in the middle.

“Trucking companies and their drivers do not make money if the wheels are not turning. These are private companies and STA members that haul for Co-Op and locking them down is having a negative impact,” said STA executive president Susan Ewart. “There are rules about how long drivers can be on duty. As they sit on the side of the road, the hours in which they can earn an income tick away. There is no wiggle room here, once they are out of time, they are out of time and done for the day.”

The STA said drivers are being impacted both in their pocketbooks and the added stress of not being able to complete their duties.

The STA said there have also been reports of drivers being harassed, which is concerning, leaving drivers “frightened and frustrated.”

Unifor has launched a nationwide boycott of Federated Co-Operatives Ltd. (FCL) retailers as a result of the situation at the Regina refinery.

“If Co-op wants to hit refinery workers with a lockout, it’s time to hit Co-Op where it hurts,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “Local Co-Ops must speak out to the FCL board and use their power to end this lock out and get refinery workers a fair contract and the pension they were promised by FCL just two years ago.”

The boycott involves television and radio ads, billboards, direct mail, a petition, and secondary pickets at retail locations across Canada.

“How much profit is enough? Co-Op Refinery clears $3 million every day when Unifor members are on the job. There is no financial case for attacking the hard-earned pensions of refinery workers,” said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator and executive assistant to the Unifor national president. “Co-Op senior leadership is abandoning the principles that attracted Canadians to become members. Now, Canadians deserve to know the unbridled corporate greed that FCL represents today.”

With 26 independent fleets hauling products for the refinery, the STA is urging everyone to respect all workers, saying the trucking industry plays a critical role in the economy and drivers are worthy of respect.

The Co-Op Refinery took Unifor to court Dec. 17, and the matter has been adjourned until Dec. 23 to give Unifor’s lawyers time to prepare.

In the meantime, as part of the limitations set by the judge, picketers are only permitted to communicate with those coming and going from the refinery for a maximum of five minutes.

The refinery lockout has been ongoing since Dec. 5.

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  • Quote:

    “Now, Canadians deserve to know the unbridled corporate greed that FCL represents today.”

    Yeah we saw . The Co-Op donated over $83,000.00 to a cancer center in the community recently . The Co-Op contributes to the welfare of the community . In fact the Co-Op is owned by members of the community .

    Unifor’s propaganda won’t work this time , especially not on a Co-Op . The Co-Op is part of the community and vice versa . If you take on the Co-Op , you take on the community . That’s why the “community” isn’t supporting Unifor’s attempt to boycott the Co-Op

    Furthermore , if the Unifor labour members wouldn’t have broken the law and behaved abusively , the Co-Op wouldn’t have filed for an injunction . The fact that the judge had to restrain picketers is pretty much self explanatory .

    In my humble opinion …………

  • When it comes to “unbridled corporate greed” Unifor and their economically illiterate members lead the pack. What a great job Unifor has done in the auto sector, chasing manufacturing out of Canada. Members would be well pressed to toss their union mob bosses out of their ear and get back to work. Co-op can wait you out and you’ll go back with nothing just like the retail workers in Saskatoon.

  • Go to the Refinery Facts page . There’s a video by Vic Huard in response to the Unifor labour union boycott attempt .

    Underneath it The Co-Op clearly explains in black & white what they are offering employees , how much employees earn on average , how profits are distributed and how much, and where the remaining portion of their profits go etc.

    The Co-Op appears to be acting quite transparently .

    The “union leader” needs to stop thinking along the lines of “fighting” and wanting to cause hardship in their attempt to make the Co-Op bend in their favour . The union needs to be creative ,act amicably, and propose a reasonable prosperous counteroffer for both parties .

    Unions need to change their mentality .

    The Co-Op isn’t sending management to picket at employee homes and cause employee hardship in an attempt to manipulate them to bend in the Co-Ops favour . Co-Op management is offering an open door to bargain .

    SO BARGAIN/NEGOTIATE !

    Get your thinking caps on and make a reasonable proposition . Asking the community to support you in boycotting themselves is highly unreasonable .

    In my humble opinion ……..

  • Unifor local 594 in violation with Section 6-59 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act

    What duty does my union owe to me?
    Section 6-59 of The Saskatchewan Employment Act states that an employee who is or a former employee who was a member of the union has a right to be fairly represented by the union that is or was the employee’s or former employee’s bargaining agent with respect to the employee’s or former employee’s rights pursuant to a collective agreement and that a union shall not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith in considering whether to represent or in representing an employee or former employee. A union does not necessarily have to carry out the wishes of every employee or place the interests of one member above the interests of another member. As long as a union has not made an arbitrary, discriminatory or bad faith decision, it will have met its duty under s. 6-59. If a union acts conscientiously and takes into account all relevant factors in making a decision, that decision is likely not arbitrary. A discriminatory decision is one which draws distinctions between union members on illegitimate grounds. A bad faith decision is one which is motivated by malice, hostility, favouritism or personal considerations. Unless a union’s decision is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith, the Board will not find a breach of the duty of fair representation, even if the Board does not agree with the decision that the union made.

    Unifor and local 594 are in violation with the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board picketing code .

    Picketing may occur during a lawful strike or lockout. The picketing is restricted to the employees’ place of employment. Picketing must be peaceful and carried out without trespassing or other unlawful acts. Violent or unlawful acts can involve legal consequences and may affect the employees’ continued employment. Picketing is regulated by the Labour Relations Board.

    How do we remove the union from the workplace?

    Visit FAQ – FREQUENTY ASKED QUESTIONS
    Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board
    or call (306) 787-2406

  • What a bunch of BS: the STA piping up and acting like they care drivers being productive and making money. The turnaround times at the Co-op refinery have always been bad. It’s nothing to spend hours waiting to load there.

    • The S T A is not concerned about the truck driver. When R S B owed me for work done and I was in a accident when I stopped for a car in a snow storm that blocked the the road
      Other truck drivers left and we’re owed wages for work done. The S T A members treat drivers badly and the S T A is not concerned about these truck drivers.

  • This is beyond comical to say the least .

    We have a union on one side misconducting themselves and breaking laws , while on the other clearly are victims of a union’s abuse .

    Furthermore , Canada has jurisprudence on the matter . Therefore The Refinery Co-Op should obtain their injunction without the need to argue their case with much effort .

    Reference :

    Quote :

    “In a recent case, PBC Health Services Society v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 1816, Jane Doe, John Doe, and Other Unknown Persons, August 18, 2017 (Vancouver Registry:  S177573), the employer brought an injunction application to prohibit illegal picketing by the union.  The B.C. Supreme Court found clear evidence that the picketing was obstructing access to the employer’s worksite. 

    The court also found that the union members’ conduct contained elements of intimidation, harassment and trespass on the employer’s property. This included swearing at non-union personnel while obstructing them, making contact with vehicles and walking on the employer’s property to extend the duration of the obstruction.

    The court concluded that the obstruction of access was clear tortious conduct and granted an order restraining the union. Further, although the strict legal tests for tortious and/or criminal intimidation and/or harassment were not present, the court applied the flexible wrongful action approach to grant an order that also restrained intimidation and harassment by the union.  Since the employer had made out a prima facie tort case regarding obstructing access, the door was effectively opened for the court to address related conduct by the union, even if the related conduct did not meet the legal thresholds for tortious or criminal activity.

    Lessons for Employers
    In all illegal picketing cases, the facts will be closely reviewed by the court so that it can craft a remedy that is tailored to address the wrongdoing.

    Although this case was the first injunction application brought by the employer, the evidence was sufficient to warrant the orders, in particular given the employer’s previous cease and desist letter and the fact that an executive member of the union was directly involved in the illegal picketing.

    While it is common ground that picketing is not a “tea party”, this case illustrates that the courts will (and must) restrict illegal picketing and will be flexible in fashioning appropriate orders.”

    End quote .

    There was an article released today titled :

    Company seeks injunction: Co-op, union in court over pickets at Regina refinery

    I will quote two statements in the article , one from each party’s lawyer .

    The Refinery Co-Op’s lawyer states :
    “Eileen Libby, a lawyer for the Federated Co-operatives Limited, told court that picketers with Unifor Local 594 have been blocking access to the Co-op Refinery Complex in Regina and intimidating replacement workers, contractors and suppliers.

    Libby said there’s been a lack of action from city police, and the court is the only place the company could turn to stop the union from engaging in what she called illegal conduct.

    “The union does not have a right, no matter what it says in arguments, to block the employer’s access to its own premises,” she argued.

    End quote :

    The court is not the only place to address concerning “tortious” acts committed by a labour union . A labour relations board can be addressed as well to rectify the misconduct .

    Ok now the Unifor’s lawyer’s argument : Get ready to laugh .

    Quote:
    “Union lawyer Crystal Norbeck questioned the allegations of unlawful conduct and argued there should be no restrictions on picketing.

    “If the company can simply hire replacement workers at will and those workers have free access to the worksite, there’s no economic pressure, at all,” she told the court.

    “The right to picket is meaningless.”

    End quote .

    Apparently like attracts like . Not only are union leaders in this case incompetent and breaking laws due to their unethical tactics while putting their own members in harms way , their lawyer doesn’t know the laws concerning this particular issue .

    She’s arguing that if the union can’t break the law then their unlawful picketing tactic is meaningless , LOL ! BINGO !

    Furthermore she’s arguing that there should be no restrictions on picketing conduct , ROTFLMAO ! Her ignorance blows my mind . However, you would be surprised if you realized just how many lawyers appear to come out of a cracker jack’s box .

    Unifor and their members in this particular labour strike conduct case are breaking so many laws it’s mind boggling .

    If The Refinery Co-Op’s lawyer is on the ball and really good , she could literally throw the book at them and win on all accounts .

    Here is a hint :

    Quote :

    “Tortious interference of business.- When false claims and accusations are made against a business or an individual’s reputation in order to drive business away.” .

    Take a wild guess on what they have been claiming and accusing their employer of doing through advertising and to the public at their secondary picketing ?

    It’s all out there . It blows my mind to see just how naïve and ignorant this union is in this particular case . And their “boycott” is the icing on the cake with which they have gravely put themselves in a position leading to third party damages through their application of tortious means .

    The Refinery Co-Op’s lawyer can truly have a field day with this case . Lucky her .

    In my humble opinion …………..

  • I don’t usually fill up at Co-Op because it’s out of my way but I filled up there yesterday on purpose. I need diesel every 2-3 days and will be going out of my way to do every one of them at a Co-Op. This is extortion, plain and simple. Take a look at the rest of the Canadian, (and more specifically Western Canadian economy)…be thankful you have a job. And no, you don’t deserve to have immunity from the economic reality. Unions are weakening this country while fattening the wallets of their “leaders”.