FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Friday, Aug. 19th, 2022
Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) calls the election process followed by the FFAW-Unifor to select a new secretary-treasurer a democratic farce, with thousands of members blocked from taking part in the vote.
“The FFAW election is an attack on democracy in terms of a free, open, and transparent election given the absolute corruption of what should be the union’s prized democratic process,” says Merv Wiseman, a member of SEA-NL’s executive board with extensive experience in organizational governance.
“The broader public should be concerned anytime we see democratic rights and freedoms usurped,” he added. “The FFAW’s voting practice is a decline in democracy, and should be condemned by all those who value the democratic process.”
The FFAW called an election for a new secretary-treasurer, the union’s second-in-command, following the unexpected July 29th resignation of Robert Keenan, who had been in the position since 2020.
However, the roughly 2,400 FFAW members who signed membership cards in 2019 in support of FISH-NL, a rival union at the time, are deemed ineligible by the union to nominate candidates or to run for secretary-treasurer.
Nominations close Aug. 26th, and to date the only candidates to step forward are two FFAW paid employees.
The actual election will be held Aug. 31st, and only members of the union’s executive board, and inshore and industrial-retail-offshore councils are eligible to vote.
“SEA-NL has a vested interest in the FFAW election because the union also represents our enterprise-owner members on fundamental issues like non-core groundfish licenses, and the right of fishermen to sell them or pass them on,” Wiseman said. “It’s in the best interests of SEA-NL members that enterprise owners are well represented."
Formed in 2016, FISH-NL was a recognized union until its disbandment in December 2019. SEA-NL was formed in the spring of 2021 as a professional association to serve as the distinct voice of the province’s 3,200 licensed inshore enterprise owners in all fleets.