• authored by news
  • published Wed, Apr 10, 2002

Undisclosed documents & smear campaigns

Earlier today, former UFCW official HJ Finnamore provided us with an update on the status of the UFCW's lawsuit against him in MFD Forum.

Finnamore was an official of the UFCW from 1989 to 1995. In the early 1990's he raised various allegations concerning misuse of funds and undemocratic practices within UFCW Local 777. From information that has already appeared on this site, we know that his employment relationship with the UFCW ended on some mutually agreeable basis in 1995 and he was retained by the union as a consultant for four years thereafter.

In August of last year the UFCW commenced a lawsuit against him seeking, among other things, a permanent injunction prohibiting him from saying anything further about the union. The lawsuit concerns a number of opinion pieces critical of business unions which appeared in the Financial Post in 2000 and 2001 and comments made in an interview he gave to a national radio program. According to Finnamore, since filing its lawsuit the UFCW has made no efforts to proceed to court and it has failed to honour a Demand for Documents; a listing of documents that Finnamore claims will vindicate him in the lawsuit. The Demand, which was filed in British Columbia Supreme Court September 12, 2001 requests information concerning a wide range of transactions, activities and relationships in which UFCW officials have been involved over the past two decades. Included in the list are check registries and balance sheets for training and education funds, records related to business expenses of senior officials, voluntary recognition and "partnership" agreements, and records of real estate transactions between the CCWIPP and various hotel enterprises.

I note that it has now been nearly six months since we served our Demand for Discovery of Documents on you and your client. That demand was fairly explicit. Forty days thereafter, you responded saying that you are preparing a List of Documents and that you will provide that list in due course. To date, you have provided no information whatsoever. As well, you haven't even bothered to have a trial date set.

While the UFCW appears in no hurry to get to court with a lawsuit that threatens to restrict his right to free speech forever, Finnamore claims that UFCW officials have been engaging in an ugly smear campaign aimed at discrediting him in the eyes of members who are asking questions about the issues raised in his commentaries. A member of UFCW Local 1400 referred to one such incident that took place at a membership meeting in Saskatchewan earlier this year:

The articles written by Hugh Finnamore were circulated around the distribution center and a lot of guys read these to their dismay. At a meeting that followed, (UFCW representative) Brian Stewart set aside part of the meeting to specifically address what H.J. had written. (UFCW Canada Director) Michael Fraser was to have appeared at the meeting but wasn't able to because of flight problems due to September 11th. Instead Paul Meneima was brought in to help the boys out. At this meeting, H.J. was called a liar, an embezzler and had been dismissed by the UFCW for inappropriate behaviour. (This was read from a fax by Paul and was sent by Michael Fraser.)

What's in the documents the UFCW won't disclose? Why are they smearing someone with whom they did business as recently as two years ago? What does Finnamore know that has the UFCW brass running for cover? We're going to find out.

  • posted by Johnny Roberts
  • Wed, Apr 10, 2002 8:50pm

As a "recipient" of a UFCW "smear campaign" myself, I can only sympathize with brother Finnamore. It seems that they have embraced the Nazi philosophy of "the big lie", the more you tell it and the longer you propogate it, the more people will believe it's the truth. Are they that insecure and scared of the membership that they must "invent" their own truth and attempt to "destroy" anyone who trys to stand up to them?

  • posted by weiser
  • Thu, Apr 11, 2002 7:05am

They smear who they fear. They fear those who have information. That's why it's so hard for the MRs and Power Source to get meaningful or valid information.

Look at some of the CAs; in BC, saying that a probationary employee isn't entitled to the grievance procedure is a bald-faced lie. It's patently untrue. However, that is the type of information presented as true to the MRs and the Power Source.

When you can't trust your contract, you can't trust that there are no "secret" deals or "partnering" deals, you can't trust that elections will be run fairly, and you can't trust that any labour body will give a damn, what is there left to trust?

The only hope for some unions is there are guys like Dougle who will trust blindly, no matter what evidence to the contrary is put before him. His union should hold on to him tightly because he is the foundation on which the house of labour seems to be built. Likewise, they should hold him near because his type is a dying breed.

  • posted by <rebelwithoutapause>
  • Thu, Apr 11, 2002 10:19am


Are they that insecure and scared of the membership that they must "invent" their own truth and attempt to "destroy" anyone who trys to stand up to them?

Yeah, I'd say they're that insecure! It's not working very well for them though is it?

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