Thursday, January 24, 2008

Danny Glover and Ontario Labour Leaders Convicted on Trespassing Charges

As someone who has attended many a peaceful demonstration, including the one described below, I can honestly say that I am surprised by the verdict. However, I'm certain it will not deter the union from taking this employer to task.


TORONTO, January 24th, 2008- Well-known actor and activist Danny Glover has been convicted, along with UNITE HERE Canadian Co-Director Alex Dagg and Ontario Federation of Labour President Wayne Samuelson, for trespassing in an Ontario Provincial Offences Court, after being charged under a rarely used private prosecution by a Niagara hotel company.

“It is sad that even though the police acknowledged everyone was well behaved and did not press charges, a rich and powerful company can pay to go forward with a private prosecution,” said Dagg. “It raises serious questions for all of us who believe in fairness and equality before the law but it will, in no way, deter us from continuing to stand up for what is right.”

The case against UNITE HERE organizer, Catalina Gonzalez was dismissed outright and Dagg said UNITE HERE will continue to vigorously defend the rights of workers in the Niagara region.

“Our members who work in these hotels have been demanding justice in their workplace for years and that is where we will continue to focus our energy,” said Dagg. “Our union has a proud history of standing up for justice in the workplace and for establishing those rights through the laws of our land. Today we are reminded that struggle is not over. The rights of working people - to express themselves and advocate for better working conditions - is fundamental. We will be reviewing all of our options, including the possibility of an appeal.”

Wayne Samuelson, President of the Ontario Federation agreed.

“I have attended union rallies and gone to speak to employers with labour problems for decades in this province and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Samuelson. “The Ontario labour movement will not be deterred by this decision today and will continue to utilize our Charter rights to stand up for working people across this province. It is wrong that those with money can go above the police and purchase a prosecution in this province and we will stand our ground against such tactics.”

The sentence will be handed down on February 8th, 2008. Danny Glover has been working with UNITE HERE to raise awareness of the issues facing Niagara area hotel workers who are fighting to improve working conditions. Canadian Niagara Hotels (CNH) owns the Sheraton on the Falls, the Brock Plaza Hotel and the Skyline Inn in the Clifton Hill neighborhood of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The hotels were purchased in 1993 by Dino DiCienzo and his company Canadian Niagara Hotels.

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