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The G.M. Injunction Decision

Justice Salmers issued his decision in the G.M. injunction on June 13th.  Here it is.  It’s an interesting decision. Ultimately, G.M. gets its injunction, because the court believed the company and the community would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ without it.  But the CAW can take some solace in the fact that the judge was clearly disgusted with G.M.’s conduct, calling it ‘almost deceitful’, and finding that G.M. did not ‘have clean hands’.  Salmers also makes some factual findings that will be key in an unfair labour practice complaint and arbitration hearing.  For example, he finds:

  1. G.M. knew for some time before June 1st that ‘the Oshawa truck plant closure announcement was imminent’, yet it elected not to engage in ‘advance discussion’ with the CAW before its June 3rd announcement of the closure, in clear contravention of the requirement in the Collective Agreement for that to occur.
  2. That G.M. executives in Detroit knew, or were aware of the possibility of the Oshawa plant closing during the collective bargaining, that the CAW had clearly raised this as a crucial issue in bargaining, and that they let the GM negotiators in Canada agree to the ‘advance discussion’ provisions.
That last point is important because the OLRB has said that the ignorance of the company negotiators is not an excuse to bad faith bargaining (see a case called Union Carbide (May 29, 1992, OLRB)).  The knowledge of the corporate executives would be attributed to the Canadian negotiators, since part of the duty to bargain is a requirement to send fully informed spokespeople to the table.    So, the facts look good for the CAW in possible ‘bad faith bargaining’ and grievance procedures, but what remedy  they can obtain will remain a big question in those proceedings.
Finally, the limit on the number of picketers (20) that continue to picket outside GM offices is a little unusual given that there has been no violence.  Previous Ontario decisions have found that  the number of picketers is not a problem if the picketing is peaceful.  In rejecting a limitation on the number of picketers in Industrial Hardwood (2001), 52 O.R. (3d) 694, the Court of Appeal wrote:

it must be remembered that picketing is a vital and constitutionally sanctioned means of collective expression in modern labour relations. Picketing speaks not just to the issues in dispute, but to the solidarity of the employees involved. In this respect, the number of picketers is itself an important part of that expression.

The CAW might have grounds to appeal that restriction if it wanted to continue large scale, but non-obstructive, peaceful demonstrations.


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