Letters to the Editor -
On the May 5, Mr. Decker of the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) announced on CBC's Fisheries Broadcast (FB) that they have secured a Life Insurance Policy for all members of the union in good standing that are part of the Harvesting and Industrial Divisions of the Union.
To accomplish this, the Union as made it a mandatory for all members to partake without question and to pay for it the union as increased union dues by $35.
This is an unfair and undemocratic process that you would only find under Fascism/Communism style of governance. You have fishers and workers out there that already have life insurance and don't want anymore.
You have fishers and workers who don't want to have anything to do with life insurance or can't afford another increase in fees to continue fishing or working.
The problem here is the monopoly the FFAW as over fishers, the biggest injustice in the fishing industry in this province today. To fish in this province you must, not should, but shall be a member of the FFAW, and therefore must accept increases in union dues or not fish. There isn't any freedom to choose, just the choice of been dictated.
It amazes me how governments that enforce laws that govern constitutional rights can allow such unconstitutional acts to be continued against one group of people within the framework of this country. The union will counter with that they have elections every three years to elect the executive, and anyone with a union card can put their name on the ballot. True, however like the formal USSR, now Russia, which had a Democratic Constitution and had general elections, all candidates were members of the communist party running against each other not against the party or the party's philosophies.
Ever since the FFAW supported the MOU/Restructuring/Rationalization of the fishing industry, which will decrease the number of fishers, enterprises, plants, and plant workers, therefore reduce the number of union members paying union dues and decreasing the unions financial bottom line, I have stated many times that the union executive will have to increase union dues to compensate for that lost.
I believe that this life insurance scheme will do just that. The following questions must be publicly put to the union, and their answers checked and rechecked for accuracy to clarify for harvesters and workers what is the union's main goal here, life insurance for its members or increase union revenues.
Who is the life insurance provider? What is the annual premium paid by the union for this insurance policy? How many union members will be paying this $35 increase in union dues? If there is a surplus, and I have no doubt there will be, will it go into the union coffers or will it be used to reduce the member's dues in coming years? (I think union coffers).
Besides paying for the union's executive salaries and the rent on their ivory tower in St. John's, the union financial cup is overflowing, so why didn't the union just pay for this insurance policy from the union's general revenue that the members have been paying into for years without any benefits like other unions provide for their members?
With all the respect I have for John Furlong, host of the FB, I must say I was very disappointed in him for not posing these questions to Mr. Decker, or at less some of them to clarify the situation for the union members and his listeners.
Also how hypocritical of the union to ask the membership to take an increase in union dues, and in the same breath criticize governments and their agencies for all the different licenses and fees they put on fishers so they can fish and demand that these fees be removed to help fishers in these difficult times.
Once again, the FFAW as failed the fishers by their deception and hypocritical ways and this is just another example why fishers need change in representation and show the FFAW the door.