One step closer to a vote: Labour Relations Board  orders hearing into FISH-NL’s application for certification 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, May 25th, 2018

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) welcomes a decision by the province’s Labour Relations Board to order a hearing into its application for certification.

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“We’re one step closer to a vote,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “But we need all hands to contribute to our Go Fund Me campaign to build the legal fund that’s critical to pushing this over the top.”

Glenn Branton, CEO of the Labour Relations Board, wrote a notification earlier today to all parties involved in FISH-NL’s application. 

“The issue to be decided at the hearing will be which fishers should be included in the unit for the purpose of the Board deciding whether a certification vote should be held,” he wrote. 

Dates for the hearing have yet to be set. “The Board will be scheduling a pre-hearing teleconference with the parties and their legal counsel in order to prepare for the hearing and select hearing date (s),” Branton added.

FISH-NL presented an application for certification to the Labour Relations Board on Dec. 30th, 2016, with little movement in the case until April 20th of this year when the investigator assigned to the file released a preliminary report. 

The report was presented to a three-person panel struck to rule on FISH-NL’s application — led by Labour Relations Board chair David Conway —  which held a meeting with the parties on May 15th.

The FFAW/Unifor takes the stand that anyone who has a fish sale in their name, with union dues automatically deducted from their cheque, is an inshore harvester (pegging the number at upwards of 9,000), and entitled to vote on their labour representation. 

FISH-NL, for its part, says the true number of bonafide, full-time, boots-on-a-deck inshore harvesters is less than half that amount, and has argued for months that an inshore harvester must be clearly defined for purposes of the vote. 

FISH-NL must have the support of at least 40 per cent of inshore harvesters to force a vote, but the Labour Relations Board can ultimately do whatever it chooses. 

FISH-NL launched a Go Fund Me campaign last week to help pay for legal and other costs, and to date has raised more $12,500.

Find the Go Fund Me link here: https://www.gofundme.com/boots-on-the-deck

The executive of the FFAW-Unifor recently changed the union's constitution so that anyone who signed a FISH-NL card is not entitled to run for the FFAW's executive positions in an election slated for this summer.

Meantime, only those harvesters who are in good standing with the union — meaning their 2017 dues must have been paid in full by March 31st — will be entitled to vote. That could block thousands of harvesters from voting because their 2017 dues wouldn't have been paid up until their first cheque of the 2018 fishing season, which was after March 31st. 

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PICTURE taken May 15 following Labour Relations Board meeting by CBC TV's Terry Roberts. From left: Southern Harbour fisherman Peter Leonard, Harvey Jarvis (secretary-treasurer, FISH-NL), Ryan Cleary (President), and Twillingate fisherman Richard Gillett (vice-president).