Saskatchewan union member must pay strike fine: court

Worker fined for crossing picket line to fulfill temporary management duties
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/02/2011

A Saskatchewan union member temporarily assigned as acting manager for the provincial government has been ordered to pay a union penalty for crossing a picket line, a court has ruled.

Approximately 18 months prior to the 2006-2007 strike, Antonia Gossner was assigned as the temporary Acting Director of Operations at the North Battleford Youth Centre. Union members are permitted to hold temporary management positions and maintain seniority, as outlined in the union’s collective agreement with the government.

As part of that position, she was required to make the necessary preparations for the operation of the Youth Centre before and during the strike.

While leaving the union was an option, the judge noted in his decision that she actively maintained her membership.

“After being an acting manager for 18 months her loyalty was with the other managers,” provincial court judge Barry Singer wrote in his decision on the case. “While she felt she faced a dilemma, her membership in the union required her to take part in the strike. She did not opt out of membership in the union.”

According to court documents, Gossner acknowledged she was told by the union that she would be fined should she cross the picket line; however, she continued to do so. When the strike came to a close, the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) issued a penalty of $6,964 — the amount of money she earned while the strike was on.

“She consciously decided to work for the employer even though she knew she would be subject to union discipline,” the judge ruled.

Gossner has been ordered to pay the fine, as well as an additional $70 in court costs, also payable to the SGEU.

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