Inshore fishermen cannot expect Earle McCurdy to land them the best possible price for their fish when he has other considerations like plant workers, who have been screaming for a raise since the price of snow crab started taking off. For that reason, his appointment to the province's fish price-setting panel is a blatant conflict of interest.
Keith Sullivan (at the podium) was groomed to become president of the FFAW upon Earle McCurdy's retirement. Former secretary-treasurer Dave Decker (centre) left the union in 2020. CBC photo.
The price of fish paid to inshore harvesters must be McCurdy's sole consideration as a member of the price-setting panel, when it is clearly not.
McCurdy may have retired from the FFAW in 2014 (although he took on contract work two days later), but he’s still in lock-step with the union, and its labour monopoly over the entire Newfoundland and Labrador fishery.
How can McCurdy, for example, be expected to agree to the highest possible price to inshore fishermen for snow crab this coming season when he knows that plant workers want a raise, and the money will have to come from the same pot?
That's not the way McCurdy's mind is wired after 21 years at the helm of the FFAW, and that conflict of interest within the union will carry over to the panel in deciding the price of fish.
In representing all fishery sectors, the union/McCurdy cannot truly represent any one sector as it should be represented, and that conflict of interest is unacceptable.
PLANT WORKERS WANT RAISE
I personally know that plant workers want a raise because they've been calling me for months asking that I speak up for them (they say the FFAW won't).
For me to do so, of course, would be a conflict of interest because I represent the interests of owner-operators (which I explained to them).
Under the province's panel system of fish pricing, when the FFAW, representing harvesters, and the Association of Seafood Producers (usually), representing plants/buyers, fail to agree on the price of a particular species the decision goes to the price-setting panel.
Under the legislation, the government-appointed three-person panel must choose one price or the other (nowhere in between), and harvesters do not have the right to vote on the final price/collective agreement or the right to strike.
In the meantime, plant workers (also represented by the FFAW) do have the right to strike — which may make for an interesting spring/start of snow crab season.
McCurd'y's appointment also doesn't address other problems with the fish price-setting panel, which were outlined in this post: McCurdy lipstick on fish price-setting pig
Besides McCurdy, provincial Fisheries Minister Derek Bragg recently appointed an advisory council whose members include FFAW executives Keith Sullivan, Tony Doyle, Loomis Way, and Alton Rumbolt.