Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Labour, pride groups call out City of Saskatoon after union leader fired – allegedly for championing gender-neutral language

Labour, pride groups call out City of Saskatoon after union leader fired – allegedly for championing gender-neutral language

by HR Law Canada

Labour and advocacy groups are rallying around Jackie Morley, a former City of Saskatoon employee and union leader, who was fired from her job.

Morley, an advocate for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the president of the Saskatoon Civic Middle Management Association (SCMMA), IFPTE Local 222, was terminated from her position, sparking a controversy over what supporters describe as a failure of due process, according to a press release issued by IFPTE.

Morley’s dismissal came abruptly as the collective agreement for the union was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2023, raising questions and concerns from various labour and community groups.

Lori Johb, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, expressed disappointment in the City’s actions.

“Considering the City’s extensive experience in labour relations, and its daily interactions with a large multi-unionized workforce, it is disappointing to see a union president dismissed without affording her the due process she deserved,” Johb stated.

Morley “has been a tireless advocate for fostering safe and inclusive work environments. During her tenure at the City, she championed the use of gender-neutral language, referring to individuals and colleagues as ‘humans.’ Regrettably, the city took exception with the terminology and demanded she sign a document agreeing to refrain from using the term. Ms. Morley refused and was terminated the following day,” the press release said.

The City’s decision has not only affected Morley but has also sent ripples through the community, with Andrew Matheson, president of the Saskatchewan Pride Network, noting a concerning trend.

“We find ourselves in a climate where we are witnessing a troubling backlash against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, it is disheartening to see an important ally such as Mayor Clark condoning discriminatory practices at the City,” Matheson said.

In response to this situation, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, and the Saskatchewan Pride Network have announced a press conference scheduled for Nov. 9 at the United Steelworkers’ hall. The conference aims to initiate a public campaign for Morley’s reinstatement and to highlight the alleged unfair and discriminatory treatment of SCMMA represented employees.

The SCMMA, representing around 400 administrative, supervisory, or professional employees, is affiliated with the IFPTE, which advocates for more than 90,000 workers across Canada and the United States in a variety of professional, technical, administrative, and associated occupations. The outcome of this conference, and the City of Saskatoon’s response, will likely be a focal point for ongoing discussions about labour rights and the treatment of 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace.

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