Key FISH-NL organizer threatened 'bloodshed' at union meeting, says FFAW employee
Warning: This story contains graphic language; RCMP confirm complaint of uttering threats
A Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) employee says she was threatened with violence after a man wearing a FISH-NL hat split a table during a meeting of union members in Fortune on Tuesday.
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"He repeatedly pounded on the table, yelling about inches from our faces," said Dwan Street, a project coordinator for FFAW.
"It then escalated to the point where he charged the table repeatedly into myself and a colleague."
Street said the man "uttered threats, very vulgar threats" during the meeting and shouted "I will rip off your head and shit down your neck."
She said the man also told her that "before this is all said and done here today there will be bloodshed and it won't be mine."
Street said the man was wearing a FISH-NL hat during the meeting.
The hat is being sold by the breakaway union to raise money for its campaign to take over representation of fish harvesters from the FFAW.
Street said the man is a key organizer of the FISH-NL campaign on the Burin Peninsula but would not tell CBC News the man's name because the matter is being handled by the RCMP.
An RCMP spokesperson confirmed Thursday they are investigating a complaint of uttering threats during an FFAW meeting in Fortune.
'What do you expect?': FISH-NL
CBC News spoke with Richard Gillett, vice president of FISH-NL, during an FFAW membership meeting in Twillingate on Wednesday night that was run by Street.
Gillett was asked for comment on the FFAW's allegations that FISH-NL supporters were uttering death threats to FFAW employees.
"I wasn't there at the meeting (in Fortune)," said Gillett, who said he got some details from the meeting.
"What do you expect from fish harvesters that have been misrepresented, are at the last edge before they go over to bankruptcy, on their last leg and have been wanting answers, wanting representation."
"What do they expect from fishermen that are desperate? And right now fishermen in Newfoundland and Labrador are desperate," said Gillett.
He said he didn't know if the threats were true and had to look into the FFAW's allegations from the meeting in Fortune further.
"I'm sure some of these meetings get hot and everything – but to the extent of death threats?" said Gillett.
Threats on both sides?
Gillett said FISH-NL has been hearing about issues with FFAW staff reps "contacting people that were going around with [FISH-NL] cards and threatening them."
"I think that was more of a heated – if it was, like I said I wasn't there – but it seems like it's coming from the FFAW, too."
Gillett was asked if he was willing to ask members to be civil with the campaign.
"Oh of course, of course," said Gillett. "I know people are frustrated with the FFAW right now. You know we need to be civil about it, this is a process."
"Make your mark on the cards," said Gillett. "Don't take it into your own hands, I don't condone any violence or anything like that. I do not condone that."
"What you do to get your frustrations out is sign your card and we'll get rid of the FFAW."