Tensions at the Port of Montreal | The longshore union says it is the victim of “fabrication of evidence”

To put an end to nepotism in its ranks, the Union of Longshoremen of the Port of Montreal is committed to finding future candidates on job search sites and having them undergo psychometric tests by a specialized firm. Union leaders are now accusing the employer of “fabricating evidence” in order to “make them look like child eaters” in the midst of collective agreement negotiations.

What there is to know

  • Since 2014, the Association of Maritime Employers of the Port of Montreal has contested a clause in the longshoremen’s collective agreement which requires it to consider candidates recommended by the union.
  • Historically, the union has always favored the hiring of children of longshoremen or candidates who are related to them.
  • In April, the Arbitration Court imposed a very tight framework forcing the union to stop exercising this illegal form of nepotism.

“We are not schemers. The way in which the candidate list had operated for years was with full knowledge of the employer,” assures Michel Murray, union advisor and spokesperson for the powerful Union of Longshoremen of the Port of Montreal, affiliated with CUPE (section local 375).

The Press revealed at the beginning of September that the Quebec Arbitration Tribunal mandated lawyer Louise Viau to ensure that the 1,200-member union stopped favoring the applications of family members of longshoremen. The union recommends 50% of longshoremen hired at the port under a clause in its collective agreement.

Our investigation showed that the union reference list, in place since the 1980s, included around 20% of minors’ names, including babies barely 1 year old. Many longshoremen, who earn on average $150,000 per year thanks to overtime and the pension plan, register their child’s name from birth to ensure them a very well-paid job when they come of age.

The union’s action plan to eliminate nepotism was presented on July 10 to arbitrator Nathalie Faucher. “As recruitment is not a field of expertise of the union, the process unfortunately takes a lot of time,” reacted the Association of Maritime Employers (AEM), in an email sent to The Press. “Everything is now in the hands of the arbitrator to determine whether the proposed solution is in accordance with the judgment and free from nepotism. »

Michel Murray criticizes the AEM for having expressed certain objections after learning of the mechanism proposed to improve recruitment.

The employer said that we will force people to submit their applications to the longshoremen’s union office, that we will wait for them at the door with thugs, and that people will not want to come in.

Michel Murray, union advisor

“It’s terrible to portray us like that. They despise us, these people, in a quite incredible way… and it’s mutual,” says the union advisor.

“Evidence Fabrication”

The union maintains that the AEM has unfairly sought to portray union administrators as bullies for several weeks. The two parties are negotiating for the renewal of their collective agreement, with the specter of an indefinite general strike hovering for the start of January 2024.

The AEM says it has implemented a “zero tolerance policy” for violent comments. “The important thing for us is to put an end to this culture of intimidation which still persists,” reacted AEM spokesperson Isabelle Pelletier.

We apply Canadian laws with the objective of offering an environment worthy of the 21st century.e century and free from any violence for our employees

Isabelle Pelletier, spokesperson for the AEM

The employer accuses union officers of regularly organizing “massive entries” of workers into port facilities when they are unhappy with a situation. On August 14, 15 and 16, the union president, Martin Lapierre, accompanied by half a dozen members of the union office, appeared in a longshoremen’s rest room to contest the work schedule of certain members. . “You told a representative of the AEM to “calm down”,” deplores the employer in a letter sent to the president of the union. “NOTHING justifies abuse of language, violence or intimidation,” writes the director of labor relations of the AEM, Jean-Sébastien Barale, in his letter addressed to the union president.

“I have no choice but to inform you of the pathos of your Association,” the union president replied by letter, accusing the employer of “fabricating evidence” in an attempt to portray the union “as employer-eating ogres.” “It is your association which is committing violence and contempt towards the longshoremen that you summon for disciplinary measures of all kinds,” adds the president of the union.

Michel Murray recognizes that the tone used by union members can sometimes rise “because[ils sont] passionate,” he says. “But we don’t eat intimidation like that. This is deeply insulting. I insist: if someone is the victim of intimidation or threats, file a report with the police. »

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