• Ontario Court Of Appeal Agrees That Unions Cannot Sue To Collect Fines
  • January 22, 2009 | Authors: Vicki L. Giles; Thomas W. R. Ross; Glenn D. Tait
  • Law Firms: McLennan Ross LLP - Edmonton Office ; McLennan Ross LLP - Calgary Office ; McLennan Ross LLP - Yellowknife Office
  • In a decision issued last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that the Public Service Alliance of Canada could not sue in court to collect union fines against members. Under the PSAC Constitution, members were subject to discipline if, during a legal strike, they crossed the picket line or otherwise voluntarily performed struck work. The Constitution also specified the amount of the fine. It "equals the amount of daily remuneration earned by the member, multiplied by the number of days that the member crossed the picket line, performed work for the employer or voluntarily performed struck work."

    The Court rejected the appeal. It concluded, as did the trial Court, that the fines were unconscionable and therefore unenforceable. However, the minority decision (the Court of Appeal was split 2 to 1) would help support a request that this issue proceed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which it might. This is obviously an important issue for Canadian unions. Fines are a vital weapon to them in trying to enforce union solidarity. It currently appears to be neutered.