Friday, September 2, 2011

Penalty for crossing picket line must be paid, court says

CBC News
Sep 1, 2011
Read decision HERE.

A union member who was temporarily an acting manager in government must pay a union penalty for crossing a picket line during a strike, a court has ruled.

The strike took place from Dec. 6, 2006 to Feb. 7, 2007 and involved workers at the North Battleford Youth Centre who were members of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union, or SGEU.

About 18 months before the strike, Antonia Gossner, a unionized worker, had been assigned temporarily to a management job, and was the Acting Director of Operations at the centre.

'Her loyalty was with the other managers.'—Decision of Provincial Court Judge Barry Singer.

The collective agreement allowed for union members to work in management jobs, on a temporary basis, and retain their union status.

"The defendant admits that she continued to work in her position of Acting Director of Operations during the strike," provincial court judge Barry Singer wrote in his decision on the case. "Indeed it was part of her job, ironically, to make the necessary preparations for management for the orderly operation of the Youth Centre before and during the strike."

After the strike was over, Gossner was assessed a penalty of $6,964 by her union, the amount of money she earned during the strike. Singer noted that she had been warned by the union that if she crossed the picket line she would be fined.

While leaving the union was an option, the judge noted that she maintained her membership.
Sided with managers

"She did not attempt to give up her membership in the union but determined that she would work for the employer because she was in a management position and felt that she should continue to manage," Singer noted.

He added that, after 18 months in the position, the worker's sympathies were more aligned with management.

"Her loyalty was with the other managers," Singer said. "She consciously decided to work for the employer even though she knew she would be subject to union discipline."

The judge said the union fine must be paid, and added an award of $70 in court costs, also payable to the union.

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