Workers’ Rights Victory in Saskatchewan


January 8, 2014

Supporters of workers’ rights won an important legal victory Nov. 21, after the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board found contractor Magna Electric Corp. guilty of unfairly terminating pro-union employees.


The four workers had been hired in early 2013 to work on the multi-billion-dollar Boundary Dam Power Station project in southern Saskatchewan.

Nonunion Magna Electric tried getting away with recruiting temporary immigrants, but after Local 2038 found out the company was hiring electricians, it contacted locals with members sitting on the bench.

Saint John, New Brunswick Local 502 sent four of its out-of-work members to Saskatchewan, who went to work for Magna.

The employer never inquired about their union status, but the new hires didn’t hide the fact they were IBEW members either, talking with their co-workers about the benefits of working union.

“I met with them a couple times after they got some interest from other employees in the IBEW,” Local 2038 Membership Development Coordinator Jeff Sweet said.

At one meeting at a restaurant in May, the Local 502 members spotted some of their co-workers at the bar, and went over to talk to them.

“Most were interested in what they had to say, but one guy was real anti-union and got angry,” Sweet said. 

The irate worker threatened to physically harm the IBEW members and to get them fired, Sweet said.  

The next working day, the boss did just that, firing three of the workers over their union affiliation. The fourth resigned before being fired. The anti-union employee was never disciplined.

Terminating workers over their views on unions is illegal under provincial law, and the local brought the case before the labour board.

“We would draw a conclusion from the employer’s conduct that the terminations were the result of an anti-union animus on the part of the employers,” said labour board Chair Kenneth Love in the ruling against Magna.

Sweet said the board found Magna’s defense neither “credible nor coherent.”

The Local 502 members are seeking a monetary settlement.


Photo used under a Creative Commons License from Flickr user Chris Potter