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Sullivan/Callahan file grievance with FFAW over election process, court action threatened

Undercurrent seafood news agency reports today that the lawyer for Bay Bulls enterprise owner Jason Sullivan and west coast crewman Dave Callahan has filed a formal grievance with the FFAW-Unifor over the union's handling of the recent election for president — threatening court action unless a new vote is held.

Fishing boats tied up at Fort Amherst (Prosser’s Rock) Small Boat Basin on the south side of St. John's harbour.

The grievance also reportedly calls for the removal of Tina Pretty, whose ex-husband Greg Pretty won the controversial election, as chair of the FFAW election committee.

There's no timeline on the legal maneuvers, but the corrupt FFAW election process must be challenged.

This isn't the first time members of the FFAW-Unifor have picked a legal fight with their union (the last time in 2016 scallop fishermen won an unprecedented court case against the FFAW), but the current threat of court action will cast a shadow over upcoming fish price negotiations.

That shadow must not become a distraction.

Jason Spingle took over as secretary-treasurer in August 2022. The former FFAW staff-rep was a key figure in an unprecedented 2016 court case in which the union was shown to have deceived its members. CBC Photo.

Fish price negotiations usually start in March with snow crab, the most lucrative commercial fishery with a 2022 landed value of $758 million (more than all other fisheries combined).

Make no mistake, all hands must be laser-focused on price.


A 2022 review of this province's government-regulated fish-pricing system recommended that discussions begin this fall/winter on a formula for setting the snow crab price — similar to formulas in place for the lobster, halibut, and lump fish fisheries.

The province has not said whether such negotiations have taken place.


On Jan. 5th, Greg Pretty was elected president of the FFAW-Unifor by a vote of 43 to 11 over Dave Callahan.

Pretty was endorsed for president by the union’s executive board on Dec. 1st, within hours of former president Keith Sullivan’s surprise resignation.

The union’s election committee (again, chaired by Tina Pretty) only informed the other two candidates — Callahan and Sullivan — of their eligibly status two days before the election.

Sullivan’s candidacy was rejected because of his affiliation with FISH-NL, a rival union to the FFAW that closed more than three years ago.

Callahan’s candidacy was approved, but he wasn’t supplied voter contact information.

Sullivan had served as President of SEA-NL, but resigned in his bid for the FFAW leadership.

SEA-NL is planning our next AGM for Gander for late February, during which there will be an election for a new president. Expect more details this week.

SEA-NL had a direct interest in the FFAW election because most of our members are also union members. Union credibility impacts fish price negotiations, and all other aspects of fishing industry representation.

That said, the structure of the FFAW in representing all sectors of the province's fishery can never truly represent one sector well.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director,

SEA-NLSeaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization serving as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. You can read more about SEA-NL, and join us here.

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