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NAPE president ponders St. John's Board of Trade boycott

Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, speaks at a news conference Friday.
Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, speaks at a news conference Friday. - Joe Gibbons

Jerry Earle looks for input on action against board businesses

In a post to his personal Facebook page Sunday morning, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE) president Jerry Earle showed that he’s still furious with the St. John’s Board of Trade.

“I’ve made up my mind what I’m going to do personally, if those they profess to represent don’t want your hard earned money then they won’t get mine either,” he wrote, as he appealed to union members for their input.

While Earle personally appears to be ready to boycott Board of Trade businesses, he said it’s also an idea he would consider taking to the union’s executive this week.

Contacted by The Telegram while he boarded a flight on Sunday, Earle said that, despite earlier reports, he did not call for a union-wide boycott of the Board of Trade.

“I’ve not said that we would have a full-on boycott,” he said. “I have asked for member’s feedback and I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive feedback.”

"Today I’ve been inundated with our membership, (and) from retirees, saying ‘Jerry, we stand with you’. My whole intent of the post this morning was to get a feel from ... working women and men that work across this entire province trying to do their best under very challenging situations, that they feel that they’ve got a target painted on their backs by this particular group, and they are highly offended by it." 

"They’re basically saying, ‘If the Board of Trade has a problem with me working, then obviously they may not want my money. So, let me know who you are, so I can avoid coming to your business,’" Earle said.

"I am president of NAPE, and along with Secretary Treasurer Bert Blundon, we spend a significant amount of money with certain businesses. If they don’t want our members’ money, then we have no intention of putting NAPE’s money into their businesses either, because we take our direction from the membership."

In the Facebook post, Earle said he believes “we have to rethink where we do business.”

 “If there are those in either of the business organizations that don’t think you deserve your income then they shouldn’t expect your Unions (sic) either.

“Let’s consider showing them what effect 30,000 consumers and their immediate families can have.”

Earle said the matter will be discussed by union brass this week.

"We’re going to be having an emergency conference call. We take our direction from the Board of Directors. We will be certainly adding our commentary to them, and we will follow through on whatever actions our Board of Directors ask us to do, because they’re out in the workplaces…so I want to hear what they have to say and then we will decide upon appropriate action," he said, adding: "There’s a saying that I’ve heard a number of times: ‘You don’t poke a sleeping bear.’ Well, the Board of Trade has poked the bear NAPE. And we will defend our members."

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He added that not all the businesses he's heard from support the comments made by Board of Trade chair Dorothy Keating last week.

“I have heard from some business people that are not on side with the big business leaders in this organization,” he said. “But if there’s particular businesses, or particular people in those organizations, that want to attack our members…NAPE will stand up to those individuals and those businesses.”

Earle’s self-described “morning rant” comes amidst a war of words with Keating.

Last week, Keating said the province borrows $2 million daily “to keep the lights on,” and has the largest and most expensive public sector in the country. She also said the no-layoff clause in NAPE’s tentative deal with the province “will be on the negotiating table at the next round of collective bargaining.”

On Friday, Finance Minister Tom Osbourne accused Keating of “fear-mongering,” insisting the clause does not rollover to the next agreement.

“I’ve given that assurance to the Board of Trade weeks ago and they continue to fear-monger. It’s very unfortunate.”

Osborne called the tentative deal reached with NAPE “excellent.” He said the government is not going to utilize massive layoffs as a way to address budgetary concerns.

NAPE is expected to ratify the deal by Jan. 30.

Meanwhile, Earle clewed up his Facebook post on Sunday telling union members he’s “willing to take the lead if you’re prepared to join me. Let’s together show those businesses that support (Dorothy) Keating’s and (N.L. Employer’s Council head Richard) Alexander’s rhetoric it may have consequences.”

At press time, Earle’s post garnered nearly 150 “likes.”

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