Supreme Court denies TWU & PSAC-UTE Leave to Appeal
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009 8:08 am
The Supreme Court of Canada has denied The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC-UTE) and Telecommunication Workers Union (TWU) Leave to Appeal their respective lower court rulings that have denied them the right to use the courts to collect fines against their own members.
LABOUR LAW: CAN UNIONS ENFORCE UNION FINES IN COURT (ALBERTA)
The Respondents crossed their union's picket lines during a legal strike and were "charged" with violating the union's constitution. A union trial board was convened and following hearings, the Respondents, none of whom attended to answer the "charges", were found "guilty" and fined for "cause detrimental to the welfare of the Union" and for crossing or working behind a picket line. None of the Respondents paid the fine and two were suspended from the union. The union sued the Respondents in provincial court civil division, seeking a judgment in debt or, alternatively, damages to enforce the trial board's fines, together with interest. The Alberta Provincial Court decided that, while the federal Trade Unions Act did not preclude the union from advancing its claims in provincial court, the union's claims were not an action in either debt or damages, that no cause of action arose at common law or by statute authorizing the unions enforcing its disciplinary penalties in a court of law, and that neither the union's constitution nor by-laws authorized it to seek redress in the courts for an internal disciplinary matter. Erb J., on appeal in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench dismissed an appeal from that judgment.
Telecommunications Workers Union Local 202 v. Wayne MacMillan, Robert (Bob) Pinchak and Cody Gejdos (Alta. C.Q.B., October 23, 2008) (32940) "The application for leave to appeal...is dismissed with costs."
LABOUR LAW: CAN UNIONS ENFORCE UNION FINES IN COURT (ONTARIO)
The Respondents Birch et al., were members of the applicant union and crossed the union's picket line to attend work during a legal strike. The union brought disciplinary proceedings against them for violating the union's constitution by working during a legal strike, suspended their membership for three years (one year for each day that they had crossed the picket line), and fined each the equivalent of their gross salary ($476.75) for the three days they crossed the picket line. When they refused to pay their fines, the union sought to enforce payment in the Small Claims Division of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The parties agreed that the matter should proceed by way of application brought by the Respondents Birch et al. in the Superior Court itself on an agreed statement of facts as a test case. They sought: (1) a declaration that the Superior Court did not have jurisdiction to enforce provisions set out in a union constitution providing for fines or financial penalties against union member; (2) alternatively, a declaration that the court did not have jurisdiction to enforce union fines; and, (3) an order dismissing the claims brought by the union against the respondents Birch et al in Small Claims. The application judge granted the application, ordered that the Superior Court would not enforce the fine, and dismissed the union's claim in Small Claims. The C.A. dismissed the appeal.
Union of Taxation Employees, Local 70030 v. Jeffrey Birch and April Luberti (Ont. C.A., December 3, 2008) (32989) "The application for leave to appeal...is dismissed with costs."