London Free Press

Laborer Takes Union Cash, Drops Complaint

By Gordon Sanderson
Spring 1983

SARNIA- It was an agonizing decision for Daniel John McHenry.

The dilemma: he had been offered cash to drop his complaint against Local 1089, laborers International Union and Rocco D'Andrea, union business manager, which was scheduled for hearing Wednesday before an Ontario labor relations board tribunal here.

And for the Bright's Grove father of one whose wife is expecting twins in June, a cheque for $2,500 from the union became an offer he couldn't refuse.

McHenry's allegations that the union's hiring hall sent two recently immigrant members to union jobs while he was waiting to be called for work in December 1981, were to be heard immediately after conclusion Tuesday of the much publicized Joe Portiss allegations into hiring hall irregularities.

Portiss, whose complaints have been viewed as a challenge to D'Andrea's authority within the 1200 member-union, was looking to McHenry's case to back stop his own.

But Toronto lawyer Brian Iler, who represented both Portiss and McHenry, said Wednesday he advised McHenry to accept the union's cash settlement because it came close to representing the amount McHenry might have claimed as loss wages if he had won his case.

The settlement was signed without any admission of fault by the union and on the understanding McHenry would drop all claims against the union.

"I was under a lot of pressure", McHenry said. "I'm just an average Canadian and didn't want to throw mud at anybody but it didn't seem right to me to have guys come over here to dig ditches while we are out of work."

McHenry said he had been sitting in the union's hiring hall Dec.14, 1981, reading a newspaper waiting for a job call. His name was on the out-of-work list as being available, when two young men he didn't recognize came in with job referral slips- indicating they had been assigned work.

"I traced them and found out they were new immigrants who had been in Canada only three months," McHenry said. At that time, he had been out of work and receiving unemployment insurance benefits for about three months.

He filed a formal complaint with the labor board and was ready to proceed with his case when negotiations for a settlement came Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn in Point Edward, scene of the labor board hearings.

Board chairman Michel Picher, granting Iler's application to withdraw the McHenry complaint on consent of union lawyer Alan Minsky, said he was pleased the dispute had been settled. Minsky had no comment on the settlement.

Iler later said that in a private discussion Picher had indicated it may be six weeks before a decision is announced on the Portiss charges. Meanwhile, no hearing date has been set on two further complaints brought against Local 1989 by Luciano D'Alessandro also involving alleged hiring hall practices.

Iler said he has learned other union members may shortly be filling complaints but did not expect the labor board to set any further hearing dates until a decision has been reached in the Portiss case.

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