From UNITE HERE:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 8th, 2008
"Noble" Actor Danny Glover and Ontario Labour Leaders Sentenced to $100 Fine for Trespassing
Justice of the Peace Moira Moses finds purpose of three defendants noble and their private prosecution by Canadian Niagara Hotels for trespassing unnecessary to protect the hotel's interests. Refuses to pass on $22,000 private prosecution costs to defendants.
Well-known actor and activist Danny Glover has been fined $100 by an Ontario Provincial Offences Court Justice of the Peace, as has UNITE HERE Canadian Co-Director Alex Dagg and Ontario Federation of Labour President Wayne Samuelson. The trio was convicted last month of trespassing under a rarely used private prosecution by a Niagara hotel company for entering the hotel during a union rally in September, 2006.
In sentencing the three, Justice of the Peace, Moira Moses found that the purpose of the three defendants was noble in trying to get into the hotel to speak with the owners about serious labour issues. She refused to pass on Canadian Niagara Hotel's $22,000 costs for the private prosecution to the three defendants, finding the prosecution was unnecessary to protect the interests of the hotel's owner, and found the company should have engaged in more good faith negotiations with the union.
"This sentencing decision really shows how silly Canadian Niagara Hotel's private prosecution has been," said Dagg. "It is outrageous that even though our courts are overwhelmed with serious cases and the police refused to charge us for entering the hotel lobby in 2006, this company has wasted its money and the court's time and tax dollars on this matter. We are glad the courts recognized this today and agree with Justice of the Peace Moses that this company should engage in more good faith negotiations with the union."
Dagg noted the union has received messages of support from across North America since word of the conviction became public in January and that the campaign by UNITE HERE to defend the rights of hospitality workers in Niagara Falls will continue.
"We are very appreciative of the support we've received from Niagara Falls and indeed, from people across North America, who join us in being outraged that this company has preferred to purchase a prosecution instead of dealing with their serious labour issues," said Dagg. "I want to personally thank Danny Glover for his incredible support and for helping raise awareness of the difficulties faced by workers at Canadian Niagara Hotel. I agree with Justice of the Peace Moses that our purpose was noble when we entered the hotel in September, 2006 and that Canadian Niagara Hotel's prosecution was unnecessary to protect their interests. It is a shame; they could have paid a room attendant for almost a year on the money they've wasted on this.
"Wayne Samuelson, President of the Ontario Federation, noted the private prosecution has only served as motivation for the rest of the Ontario labour movement to become even more involved in the struggle for workers' rights in Niagara Falls.
"The waste of the courts times by this company's private prosecution is a serious issue," said Samuelson. "But their rather strange response to Alex, Danny and I entering their hotel, has drawn attention to the bigger labour issues down here in Niagara and that is a good thing. Workers, from across this province, have expressed their support and their desire to become involved in the struggle for workplace justice in Niagara."UNITE HERE represents 50,000 hotel, food service, garment and manufacturing workers across Canada and 450,000 across North America. The union has been working with activists, like Danny Glover, to raise awareness of the issues facing hospitality workers across North America.