• authored by news
  • published Fri, Aug 29, 2003

Just in time for Labour Day, UFCW gets out the muzzle

Just in time for Labour Day
UFCW gets out the muzzle

On the eve of Labour Day 2001 the United Food and Commerical Workers Union served Hugh Finnamore with a lawsuit. Finnamore was a UFCW official with the "special" Local 777 in Vancouver in the late 1980's and early 90's. He was got booted out of the fold in 1995 after raising issues connected with the Local's training and education fund. In recent years, he's written and spoken publicly about life on the inside of the large business union, much to the displeasure of UFCW brass.

The UFCW's Labour Day lawsuit claims among, other things, that Finnamore defamed the union by stating that its officials practice nepotism, party hardy, and do backroom deals with employers. As part of its remedy the UFCW is seeking a permanent gag order prohibiting Finnamore from speaking ill of them ever again.

Shortly after being served, Finnamore filed an extensive Demand for Documents with the court. He requested copies of UFCW records related to numerous dealings between UFCW officials and representatives of employers and of other unions; documents which he says are relevant to his defence.

The UFCW filed it suit in 2001 and then did nothing for two years. They did not move for a trial or a discovery and, despite three requests, have not produced a single document requested in the Demand notice. Yesterday, after two years of silence, they finally moved on Finnamore notifying him that it intends to proceed with the lawsuit.

The UFCW, which bills itself as "A Voice for Working America" has filed a number of lawsuits over the past couple of years against people and organizations who have been publicly critical of its practices. This flurry of lawsuits has led to concern that the union is engaging in Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPP's, a practice used by some large corporations to discourage public criticism of their practices and products.

What could possibly have gotten the Voice for Working America out of the bushes after two years? We're asking Finnamore to join us in the forum to shed some light.

  • posted by HJFinnamore
  • Fri, Aug 29, 2003 12:10pm

This is jut too funny.

I suppose that they know that two years is up and they don't want me to apply to have the case dismissed by filing a "Want of Prosecution" application. As well, they are most likely aware that I am scheduled to testify about them in a Quebec court case in September. They may want to try to assert that my credibility is questionable because they are suing me for defamation.

I've been trying to get them to set a court date for the past two years, and I've been trying to get them to respond to my Demand for Discovery of Documents. I've also asked that they give me transcripts of specific statements, which they allege that I've uttered. They simply ignore my repeated requests.

If I didn't want this thing to reach a hearing so badly, I would apply to have it dismissed. This is my big chance to get my story out as public record stated under oath.

In short, I'm actually quite excited that the case may now go forward. However, I'm not going to hold my breath. I can't wait to testify and question some key machine heads.

First the examination for discoveries and then on with arguing the stupidity of their invalid action.

This is slated to be a prime media event. I'm already being asked to immediately advise some key journalists as to the court date.

The UFCW's reliance on lawyers will be their undoing. Bring on the lawyers!

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Fri, Aug 29, 2003 3:10pm

Well I for one certainly hope that you get your day in court and soon. It will be wonderful having so much factual material about what goes on inside the biz union on the public record.

What's happening in Quebec?

  • posted by BillPearson
  • Sat, Aug 30, 2003 6:35am

When i first started visiting MFD, i read volumes. I wanted to see what the site was really about. I was stunned as i read allegations of election fraud, backroom deals and manipulations beyond compare.

Something didn't compute. I had been talking and listening to the Canadian officers for years, and the stories they told were of unbridled success. While i had spent a lifetime sorting out both sides of an issue, i knew the variances couldn't be this great.

Someone was lieing. I always felt the truth was a good thing. I asked members to be honest with me when dealing with an issue. Sometimes they were, sometimes they weren't. The funny thing was, we usually got there, one way or the other.

This lawsuit against HJ was remarkable to witness. Apparently, the boys had had enough, and they were calling him out. Those of us who have challenged the structure before, recognise how difficult it is to get them to respond. Their best weapon is to ignore and shun those who demand answers. For some reason, they feel they are above it all.

Not so after this decision. All will be held up to the light of day. Mainstreamers will have to put up or shut up. It is strange to see them pursue this, but given Hugh's anticipation over the ordeal, i have a strange feeling i know where the truth lies.

It has been stated, "the truth will set you free." One can only imagine, after the trial, who will be floating and who will be sinking. Should be a great show, and once and for all, end the question of who's lieing and who is telling the truth.

  • posted by unionnow
  • Sat, Aug 30, 2003 2:40pm

They are going to argue that there is no nepotism in the UFCW? What they hell are they thinking?

Their senior international vice president down here has had no less than 6 family members working for "his" local.

There are no backroom deals with the employers?

When Perone came down here and met with Burd he didn't have the balls to stop and meet with the local pesidents before flying back to D. C.

There are no big parties? What the hell has the UFCW International union VP's been doing down in Boca Raton all these years? They can't agree to keep the dinner bill for 65 fat pigs under a half a million.

Why don't they meet in Peoria and save us a few bills next time?

These guys didn't invent stupid; they perpetuate it.

  • posted by <Michael Troy Moore>
  • Sun, Aug 31, 2003 12:25pm

My last count there were over 12 to 15 Loveall's/son inlaws, grandsons inlaw, brotherin law, on staff/payroll, recent retired senior staffer has 3 children on payroll, another senior staffer has son and brother inlaw on payroll, another retiree has 2 family members on payroll, another ex-rep. has 1 kids on payroll over 25+ people are famliy and if they do not hire other reps. famliy members? it is most likey a sign the the "USEALL" has plans to force you out within 2 to 5 years.

25+ famliy when you count all of the famlies

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, Aug 31, 2003 1:35pm

I could never quite understand why the UFCW filed this flurry of lawsuits. None of them make any sense. There is plenty of proof that what the defendants have said is either truth or fair comment or both. Dragging it into a public venue where it is sure to attract media attention and form part of the public record makes no sense whatsoever.Even if there was some doubt, you'd wonder how many unions would spend the time and money and risk the bad publicity. None of these were deterrents for the UFCW.

My guess is that they're driven by a combination of two things: One, they want to discourage members from visiting union reform web sites or becoming active in union reform. I recall hearing a number of members say just after the season of the lawsuits that their business agents were telling them to stay away from the MFD web site because the site was being sued and they'd be sued too if they were caught hanging around here. It was also a way to signalling to the members that "what those MFD'ers are saying ain't true" without actually saying that. "We're suing them you know". (Funny, but to this day, the dipsticks at UFCW high command still haven't said what it is on this site that's defamatory. Maybe that's because the answer is "nothing".)

The other factor is that when an organization that is very insular and secretive is in crisis, the leaders do all the wrong things. Instead of going to lengths to objectively assess what's wrong and what needs to be done to fix things, they cling even more desparately to the practices and principles that have created the crisis. I can see how this would be the case with the UFCW. It's leaders are surrounded by yes-men, have created a culture where they are right and their continued hold on power depends on them being perceived as right. No opportunity exists for countervailing views (so much for objective assessment of the problem).

They are also surrounded and supported by thousands upon thousands of loyal cheerleaders who reinforce their rightness because they must. These guys live and breathe the illusion that the leader has created. They also depend on it continuing until they are old enough to slide into a comfy retirement. This phenomenon puts the organization on a trajectory to almost certain doom.

SLAPP'ing critics around is a way of reassuring the loyal troops that all is well. The illusion lives!
- and I've noticed this in other cases of organizations that are in crisis - leaders

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