'Meet the scabs': Unifor Canada video exposes workers crossing picket line
Unifor Canada is facing criticism for a social media video that exposes replacement workers who crossed the picket line during a protracted lockout in Gander, Newfoundland.
âMeet the scabs,â declares the one-minute video on the unionâs Twitter and Facebook accounts. The text is followed by a montage of photos of workers hired by D-J Composites, a U.S.-based aerospace company, to replace 30 employees it locked out almost two years ago in a wage dispute.
Selfies and snapshots grabbed from the workersâ public Facebook profiles, with their names as captions, fade into surreptitiously taken images of them driving cars, walking across parking lots and sitting at picnic tables on what appear to be their lunch breaks.
âIs crossing the picket line really worth it? We have been locked out 21 months,â the video asks.
In three days, the video racked up nearl y 110,000 views and hundreds of reactions â" a lot for a dispute in a town of about 12,000 people.
Posting pictures of people who cross a picket line isnât new. In 2013, the Supreme Court upheld a unionâs right to take photographs at a picket line as a means of public pressure in a dispute. But Uniforâs video renewed questions over whether itâs fair for a national union with a large online following to target individual workers instead of the employer.
The majority on social media slammed Unifor for naming and shaming, describing the tactic as bullying or harassment.
Many noted that Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 14.4 per cent.
âThese people are trying to make a living. Support your own, sure. But donât humiliate others in a tweet,â @tudcey posted.
Some argued it amounted to doxxing, the practice of publishing private information to identify an individual online.
âAs a member of Unifor I am disgusted by this shameful video. We should be lobbying for laws that forbid employers to hire replacement workers. Not going after the workers, who are probably desperate,â Twitter user @DamatoRecord posted.
But Unifor hasnât yielded.
âWe tried everything else,â Lana Payne, the unionâs Atlantic regional director, said Sunday. âThis is really a response to what has been a stepped-up pressure tactic from the employer to basically bust our union.â
These people are trying to make a living. Support your own, sure. But don't humiliate others in a tweet
The union has sent letters to politicians, lobbied the province for a law banning replacementg workers (only Quebec and B.C. have such laws), and brought the employer to the labour board twice. The board found D-J Composites engaged in bad faith bargaining, but nothing has been resolved and the union rejected its latest offer last spring.
D-J Composites could not be reached on Sunday.
As frustration mounts and savings dwindle, some locked-out workers have taken part-time work elsewhere as the company hires more replacement workers, Payne said.
âHaving to now watch people daily go across the picket line, taking their job and their work has been very heart-wrenching.â
In time for Labour Day, the union increased efforts to end the lockout, including social media ads targeting the replacement workers. Payne acknowledged the negative reaction, but noted the union has also received support.
She questioned why the public has as much or more sympathy for people crossing the line as it does for the locked out workers. Theyâre facing pay cuts to wages that range from $14 to $20 per hour.
âThe people who are crossing the line and doing our membersâ jobs have made a conscious choice to do this,â she said, adding there are dozens of full-time positions available in Gander on online job boards.Source: Google News Canada | Netizen 24 Canada