FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 20th, 2017
The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is questioning whether the province’s Federation of Labour still stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the FFAW since the union has been convicted in court of deceiving its membership.
“As federation president, Mary Shortall came out last November and took sides, condemning FISH-NL,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “But Friday’s unprecedented ruling by the Court of Appeal, backing up an earlier Supreme Court of NL decision, means the FFAW broke its sacred trust with its membership.”
"Does Mary Shortall and the Federation of Labour support that behaviour? Will there be reprimand or discipline? At the very least, Shortall should demand that the president of the FFAW, Keith Sullivan, apologize to his membership.”
The Court of Appeal ruling found that the FFAW broke a “fiduciary duty” with its members.
Between 2010 and 2013, the FFAW negotiated a compensation package with Nalcor for a power line across the Straight of Belle Isle to bring Muskrat power to the island. The power line impacted scallop harvesters in that they could no longer fish in the area.
Under the FFAW deal, only active scallop harvesters were to be compensated, and then over 30 years, according to the court documents. The FFAW would be paid $2.6 million in a lump sum, and then dole it out to harvesters over 30 years. Meantime, the union charged an administration fee of $388,000 for handling the money.
However, it was only after that deal was done that the FFAW asked harvesters for permission to negotiate with Nalcor on their behalf.
The FFAW distributed consent forms — when the union had already done a deal, which is where the deceit came into play, and where the union broke its 'fiduciary duty.’
Then there was the deal itself. Harvesters argued the money should be shared through lump sum payments among everyone who held a scallop licence — active or inactive.
“A union is supposed to represent the wishes of its members — not the other way around,” says Cleary. “Harvesters have been saying for years that the FFAW held meetings — not to consult members — but to tell them what had already been decided.”
“This ruling proves that. How Mary Shortall can still stand shoulder to shoulder with a union convicted in court of screwing over its membership is beyond me.”