Nfld. & Labrador

Union officer dies after falling ill on D-J Composites picket line

Locked-out workers and allies on the picket line outside of D-J Composites in Gander are mourning the loss of one of their own this weekend.

Louise Leaman-Corbin travelled to Gander from Nova Scotia to stand with locked-out workers

Louise Leaman-Corbin travelled from Nova Scotia to join locked-out workers in Gander. (Unifor/Twitter)

After an eventful week on the picket line outside D-J Composites in Gander, the tone Saturday was subdued as union members mourned the death of one of their own.

Louise Leaman-Corbin, 64, a union officer for Unifor Local 2216 in Kentville, Nova Scotia, died on Friday after travelling to Gander to stand with workers from Local 579 who have been locked out for 649 days.

A flag is lowered in Louise Leaman-Corbin's honour on Friday. (Unifor/Twitter)

"I think it speaks to her commitment as a trade unionist that she had really wanted to be here," said Lana Payne, Atlantic regional director of Unifor.

Leaman-Corbin wasn't feeling well on the morning she died, but that she insisted her husband, who travelled with her to Gander, go out and join the union members on the line.

Remembered with honour guard

On Saturday, Payne said Unifor flew members of Leaman-Corbin's family to Gander, and held an honour guard in her memory.

"They were very proud of their mother and [her husband] was obviously very proud of his partner and her commitment."

While Unifor provided financial support to help members from outside the province join the picket line, Payne says the willingness of members like Leaman-Corbin to leave home to help out is a sign of a growing awareness that what's happening in Gander isn't right.

"I think the injustice that is occurring in Gander at this workplace has certainly also spoke to people," she said.

"It certainly inspired Louise and Doug, and it has inspired so many people across the country and they want to be able to help them. It's what makes our union strong, people like this."

Hundreds of Unifor members from outside town have arrived in Gander to join the picket line outside of D-J Composites. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

Fight will not let up

While it's been an emotional few days for union members, Payne said they will continue their fight on the picket line.

A court hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday to determine if Unifor is breaking a court injunction by blocking replacement workers and managers from entering their work site.

Louise Leaman-Corbin poses for a photo with Unifor President Jerry Dias at a rally for locked out D-J Composites workers in Gander. (Unifor/Twitter)

Unifor also has a long awaited meeting with Premier Dwight Ball on Monday.

"We'll be imploring the premier to be involved here in this in any way he can, and to use any tool that he has access to ... to ensure that this employer does what they're supposed to do according to the law," she said.

"And that is to bargain fairly with Unifor and to make sure that we end this lockout and get our people back to work."

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