A labour board decision has exposed a bitter internal dispute from several years ago at the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour — one that involved its high-profile president.
According to a recently released decision by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board, a former senior employee with the SFL is accusing his union of failing to properly represent him after he was fired in 2005.
Garnet Dishaw alleges his union — the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, local 397 — was more interested in protecting the image and reputation of SFL president Larry Hubich than in representing him.
However, the board dismissed the unfair labour practice complaint by Dishaw, a former SFL communications director, saying he waited too long to launch his case.
Dishaw claims he was unjustly dismissed in October 2005 and accuses the union of abandoning his best interests and acting in a discriminatory and arbitrary way.
The union denies his claim, including the allegation it wanted to protect Hubich, Dishaw's boss.
In documents filed with the labour board, the union noted that in the months leading up to the dismissal, relations were extremely tense between the two men.
"Their working relationship deteriorated to the point that they could not have a civil conversation with each other," the union said.
Matters came to a head when the two men had "a severe confrontation in the workplace after everyone else had gone home, with both men being verbally abusive towards each other," the union said.
After Dishaw was dismissed, the case went to mediation, but "it became abundantly clear that the contempt and hostility between Mr. Dishaw and Mr. Hubich was palpable and would not dissipate in the foreseeable future," the union said.
A settlement of $57,947.32 was negotiated by the union, but Dishaw didn't want to sign the release and payment was never made, the union said. Dishaw disputes many of the facts in the union's version of events.
He contacted the labour relations board in August 2008. In its decision dated Jan. 9, 2009, the board dismissed his application, saying Dishaw waited too long — 23 months after he was fired — to bring it forward.
Workers at the SFL have since voted to decertify the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union. They're now represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the decision said.
The board's decision can be appealed to the courts.