This letter is a response to Ryan Cleary’s letter “Single union can’t represent all sides of fishery” published on Aug. 16 in The Telegram.
Uniting workers in the fishing industry through a single union has delivered significant benefits to both fish harvesters and plant workers in the 50-year history of FFAW-Unifor and its predecessor unions. The only groups who do not support strong unions are the fishing companies we negotiate with, and Ryan Cleary and his group FISH-NL.
Without plant workers and fish harvesters banding together, our union would not have defeated the harmful Raw Material Sharing policy in 2005. We would not have succeeded in ending the LIFO policy for northern shrimp. Without the support of plant workers, fish harvesters would not have secured a commitment for the first 115,000 metric tonnes of northern cod for the inshore fishery or rolled back massive proposed cuts to snow crab quotas this year.
Fish harvesters and plant workers don’t just share an industry, they share communities and families. These workers are inextricably linked, and their individual bargaining power is much greater under one union banner.
In the coming months, Cleary and his group FISH-NL will be attempting a second drive to represent inshore fish harvesters after their previous application was dismissed by the labour relations board due to insufficient support.
It’s not just that FISH-NL wants to cast aside plant workers, they’ve also questioned the legitimacy of several thousand fish harvesters.
Ultimately, FISH-NL is a group led by failed candidates for FFAW-Unifor leadership positions who are only interested in representing a small group of individuals who want it all for themselves.
This fall, fish harvesters will have to choose whether they want to an experienced, well-resourced union that has negotiated some of the highest prices ever for harvesters this year, that has united the industry to successfully fight back against quota cuts and bad management decisions, or do fish harvesters want a bare bones group of conspiracy theorists with no experience or organization representing them.
I think it’s a pretty easy decision.