March 25, 2022
In a sickening display of contempt for fish harvesters, the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP) arrived at the standing Fish Price Setting Panel arbitration for snow crab today and presented a motion to remove Earle McCurdy from the Panel. This move was clearly premeditated and a deliberate act to undermine the collective bargaining process on the eve the snow crab fishery. ASP’s action is raising the alarm for fish harvesters around the province, as Union leadership makes plans for critical next steps.
“This was a pre-planned, underhanded move by ASP. These cartel-like tactics are reminiscent of the merchant era and it makes clear that these companies will do anything to pad their wallets even as we embark on a very valuable snow crab fishery that has been immensely profitable to processors for years,” says FFAW-Unifor President Keith Sullivan.
As a result of today’s surprise move by ASP, the Panel did not hear the case for snow crab prices. A hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 29th regarding ASP’s motion and the arbitration for snow crab prices has a new tentative date of next Wednesday, March 30th.
“The appointment of Earle McCurdy to the Price Setting Panel is not a conflict of interest. McCurdy, like every appointee, was vetted through the independent appointment system and was appointed to this position by the Lieutenant-Governor. ASP conveniently seems to forget the appointment of Bill Wells, who worked for years as the executive director of the organization that became ASP and who subsequently served for many years on the Panel, including one year as Chair,” says Sullivan.
Wells’ term on the Panel brought no concerns of bias and highlights the benefits of having appointees with knowledge of the fishing industry on the Panel. McCurdy has not worked as an advocate for fish harvesters in 7 years, far longer than the 1 year minimum required.
The snow crab fishery is the most profitable fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. Negotiating a fair price that is in line with the market is critical to ensuring the maximum wealth stays in our communities instead of corporate pockets. FFAW continues to work to improve fairness in the process by demanding increased transparency around market information and changes needed to the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act.
“We are on the cusp of another strong year in the fishery with the potential of high landed values and volume. We had hoped the negotiation season would proceed smoothly but unfortunately that has not been the case. Our provincial government continues to facilitate corporate concentration by failing to address the Union’s request for procedural change and by allowing ASP to continue to manipulate the price setting process. We will be meeting with the Executive Board and Councils over the weekend as we make plans on our next steps moving forward,” Sullivan concludes.
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Courtney Glode (she/her)