High-priced lawyers hired to privatize public service played lead role in two of the province’s longest strikes at Voisey’s Bay and St. John’s Airport.
St. John's (02 May 2016) — Jerry Earle, President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE/NUPGE), is reacting to news that the Liberal government has hired a high-priced law firm and a crisis management specialist with close Liberal ties to handle public sector negotiations.
Newfoundland and Labrador government paying high-priced lawyers and crisis management consultants as workers and families suffer budget cuts
“At a time when this government, this Premier, is telling the people of the province that they have no money for libraries, for Masonic Park, for over 650 jobs, for courts, offices, and so many other important services, I am truly shocked to learn that they would have the gall to hire a law firm for over $350 an hour to handle public sector negotiations,” said Earle. “What kind of message does that send to the people of the province, to public sector workers, to our union? Especially at a time when some of our members are clearing out their desks and while many live and work in fear of what the fall budget will bring? And, as if that weren’t enough, to find out all of this from the media?”
According to a story released by the CBC on April 30, the government has hired the services of McInnes Cooper, a law firm that specializes in labour law, as well as Cathy Dornan, a crisis management specialist. The contract could mean the province is spending over $500 per hour on the upcoming set of public sector negotiations. This amount would be on top of what they are spending on their current staff who normally handle negotiations.
Anger over budget felt across the province
“I have been in communities right across this province since this regressive budget came down and I can understand why this government would want to hire a crisis management specialist; I have never seen this level of public anger, frustration, and disappointment in a budget. This budget is a crisis in and of itself and this government is in a freefall as a result,” said Earle.
“Outside of the ridiculous amount of money that the government is going to pay to these private interests to negotiate with public sector unions over the coming months, this law firm has a reputation and a track record in this province — playing a lead role in two of the province’s longest strikes at Voisey’s Bay and St. John’s Airport.”
NAPE/NUPGE will bargain fairly and with strength despite government's intimidation tactics
“This government may be trying to send us a message today, one that they didn’t have the courtesy or courage enough to deliver to us themselves,” stated Earle. “Let me be very clear, to this government, to the lawyers hired to handle negotiations and to our members — NAPE will not be intimidated. We will go to the bargaining table strong and united. We will negotiate with the goal of reaching fair agreements for our members. We have negotiated with employers, governments, and lawyers across this province for years. We are ready to be strong, but we are also ready to be fair.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE