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Court decision backs union sanctions against 'scab' members
(posted on NUPGE website February 17, 2006)
 
Ontario decision upholds fines against workers who crossed picket lines in 2004
 
Ottawa (27 Feb. 2006) - The Small Claims Division of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has sided with the Public Service Alliance of Canada in its decision to impose fines on members who crossed picket lines during a 2004 strike against the federal government.
 
So far the court has ordered four members to pay fines ranging from $117 to more than $1,000.  Amounts are calculated on the basis of wages collected while their fellow union members were off the job supporting union negotiations who were attempting to reach a new contract agreement with the government.
 
Employees who cross picket lines to work during a legal strike are often called scabs, strikebreakers, or, if management is doing the labelling, replacement workers, which makes what they do sound less offensive.
 
In fact, they are the employees who enjoy the full wage and benefit levels won by the collective bargaining efforts of their co-workers while refusing to share in the collective and democratically-decided job actions required to gain such benefits.
 
The union, which now has the right to authorize pay deductions if necessary to collect, says close to 200 other cases are outstanding and will come before the court in coming months.  More than 125,000 members were on strike during the 2004 job action.
 
It is the first time in Ontario that the uinon has gone to court to enforce sanctions against "scabs" - those who enjoy the benefits of union membership but who refuse to support their fellow union workers when they vote to walk off the job.
 
In other provinces, the union has had mixed results in appealing to the courts.  It has been successful in Alberta and Saskatchewan, for example, but not in Manitoba.  NUPGE



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