Retired Maple Leaf Food worker’s case against union that cited issue with ‘entire employment history’ dismissed by board

A worker standing outside a courthouse. Illustration: HR Law Canada

Throwing spaghetti against a wall, walking away and hoping something sticks isn’t a great strategy when it comes to workplace litigation.

That’s essentially what a unionized worker at Maple Leaf Foods did, months after he retired, and it resulted in the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board dismissing his application.

The worker, TS, filed an application with the board on Feb. 23, 2023, alleging an employee-union dispute. Other than filing the application, he did not participate in the proceedings.

He did not file a reply to the United Food and Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) application for summary dismissal. Maple Leaf Foods did not participate in the proceeding either.

Worker had issues with ‘entire employment history’

The worker’s application said the circumstances giving rise to the alleged contravention of the Saskatchewan Employment Act was his “entire employment history.” Further, TS alleged the UFCW has been engaging in a contravention of “all” sections of the act, including:

  • mail tampering
  • wrongful dismissal from posting
  • being “singled out because of workload”
  • being charged with not abiding by doctor’s note while working with sanitation
  • being assaulted on Maple Leaf Foods grounds by a manager
  • a harassment complaint he made against a HR manager at Maple Leaf Foods
  • complaint about cameras being used to enforce a masking policy.

For a remedy, the application lists “take ownership of wrongdoings by MLF & Union, charge according to the law, any monetary value on this, I put in the hand of my lawyer or judge or judecator (sic) who is familiar with case or cases like this” and “most important, closure.”

The UFCW, in its reply, noted TS had retired from Maple Leaf Foods on Sept. 1, 2022, after being employed for about 24 years. It said the whole of his application constitutes a “screed against the actions of (MLF) and does not plead any facts supporting a breach of the union’s duty of fair representation or a breach of the principles of natural justice in the context of union-imposed discipline or membership issues.”

It also noted the remedies TS sought were not within the labour board’s jurisdiction and there was excessive delay in filing the application as the events described occurred from 2012 to 2021.

The board’s ruling

The UFCW sought summary dismissal, and the labour board granted it. It agreed with the union that there was no arguable case against it, and it was a “screed” against his employer’s actions.

It also noted that there was an undue delay in the filing of the application.

“Tolerable delay tends to be measured in months, not years,” it said.

Finally, it agreed that the remedies sought by TS were outside its jurisdiction.

“The application’s reference to a monetary award being at the discretion of (his) lawyer, a judge or an adjudicator clearly does not contemplate a remedy within the board’s authority,” it said.

See United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 248-P v Stamper, 2023 CanLII 39149 (SK LRB)

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