Nfld. & Labrador

Union members say exec Roy Hawco unfit due to impaired driving conviction

Members of a local union branch are speaking out against a union executive, saying he's unfit to continue in his role due to an impaired driving conviction.

Incoming president says election process fraught with irregularities, calls for new process

The union, which operates a college in Holyrood training crane operators, recently re-elected Roy Hawco as business manager, but some members are saying there needs to be another vote. (CBC)

Members of a local union branch are speaking out against a union executive, saying he is unfit to continue in his role due to an impaired driving conviction and that there are issues surrounding his recent re-election.

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 904 represents some workers at sites like Long Harbour and Muskrat Falls. The union also operates a college in Holyrood where it trains tower crane operators and other workers.

Roy Hawco is the business manager of the local branch and was recently re-elected to the union's executive.

Since Hawco's re-election, CBC News has been contacted by several union members who expressed concerns about Hawco's position.

There have too many voting irregularities for the results to stand.- John Flaherty

On Feb. 18, Hawco pleaded guilty to impaired driving, a charge that comes with an automatic suspension of the person's driver's licence.

When contacting CBC, the union members said an average worker would likely lose their job if they lost their driver's licence.

Incoming union president John Flaherty filed an appeal letter earlier this month, which has been obtained by CBC, contesting Hawco's re-election.

Flaherty said in the letter he's concerned about Hawco's impaired driving conviction, but he also said the election was fraught with irregularities.

"There have too many voting irregularities for the results to stand," the letter states.

On Friday afternoon, CBC News learned that the union executive has voted in favour of Flaherty's appeal, and will seek to have the results of the recent election overturned. 

Questions remain

According to Flaherty's letter, the same law firm that represented Hawco for his impaired driving case was also responsible for overseeing the union election process, which he said creates a conflict of interest.

What else has happened that we do not know about?- John Flaherty

Flaherty also said union members were incorrectly deemed ineligible to vote in the election process, and ballots were sent out with inaccuracies and incorrect information.

He said the union office failed to keep track of ballots, that some ballots were flawed and still other ballots were mailed in but never counted.

"These are the irregularities for which there is evidence," Flaherty's letter states. "What else has happened that we do not know about?"

Flaherty is pushing for the election committee to call for a new election for the role of president and business manager, with recommendations that an independent firm is brought in to conduct the process.

Meanwhile, Hawco told CBC News he meets all requirements to sit on the union's executive, and has no plans to step down.

With files from Zach Goudie

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