The Labour Relations Board has scheduled a teleconference for this coming Monday to set a date for a hearing that could win inshore harvesters the right to a vote on their union of choice.

As it stands, FISH-NL will NOT be represented by a lawyer.


After 21 days, FISH-NL’s Go Fund Me campaign has raised $21,209 of the $75,000-goal.

That won’t cover the legal costs FISH-NL faces — both at the Labour Relations Board and the province’s Supreme Court, where the FFAW-Unifor is challenging our status as a union.

Until now, St. John’s lawyer David Goodland has represented FISH-NL. He’s an expert in local labour law, and if not for his early arguments (most of which were provided pro bono), FISH-NL would have been dead in the water from the get-go.

Goodland has an excellent track record in defending inshore harvesters. He represented scallop fishermen who took the FFAW-Unifor to court over a $2.6-million compensation fund for lost fishing grounds on the Strait of Belle Isle. Goodland won that case, and subsequent appeal.

Let me absolutely clear, FISH-NL’s best chance for a vote is with Goodland at the helm before the Labour Relations Board — not me.

The hearing is to present legal arguments, and I am not a lawyer.

At the very least, a vote will guarantee a debate about the future of the fishery, which is uncertain to say the least.


Before FISH-NL was formed in late October 2016, meetings were arranged in Corner Brook and Clarenville to gauge interest in a breakaway union, and the halls were blocked to the rafters.

Following the Corner Brook meeting, several hundred harvesters walked straight down the street to the local FFAW-Unifor office, marched up the stairs, and told the union representative in no uncertain terms they wanted change.

It’s been 20 months since then, and David has stood toe to toe against the Goliaths of the fishery — the union, and the federal and provincial governments that back the status quo.

By not supporting the movement now, harvesters are not letting me down, or even FISH-NL. You’re letting yourselves down.

The fishing industry is in desperate need of change, and this opportunity will not come again any time soon.
After the last meeting at the Labour Relations Board three weeks ago, the FFAW-Unifor sent an e-mail to members telling them FISH-NL is against fishing EI, and the last 16-plus months have been all about “lies and manipulation.”

If inshore harvesters don’t know the truth now, they never will.

What’s so frustrating is that for the sake of $25 — one week’s union dues — from every FISH-NL supporter, we could hire Goodland, who represents the best shot at a vote.

For my part, I have looked too many fishermen/fisherwomen in the eye and told them I will not give up … to do so now.

You’ll find FISH-NL’s Go Fund Me Page attached. The future is in your hands.

Onwards and upwards. 


Ryan Cleary,

President, FISH-NL