Road Warrior News has obtained two memos from Teamsters Local Union Number 31, the British Columbia local which spearheaded the third successful grievance against Purolator Inc.
Purolator, which is owned 91 per cent by the federal government of Canada through Canada Post, suspended and/or terminated hundreds of employees and owner/operator contractors when they declined to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.
After having fought the grievances in Ontario and Quebec, it appears Purolator may be out of options after the December 14th decision in British Columbia, which calls for reinstatement and compensation for employees and owner/operators who were terminated during the COVID period. The full, 196-page arbitrator’s decision is expected to be posted on December 18th.
“It is a great, great feeling to be vindicated, to be acknowledged by the arbitrator,” says one Purolator employee who requested anonymity. “So many of us were treated very unfairly, so the money will be great, yes – when we get it, it won’t be instant – but having our treatment acknowledged as wrong is the most important thing.”
The employee goes on to note that they personally know Purolator workers who lost their homes and in some cases their marriages: “The guy came home to tell his wife he’d been laid off, and she said, ‘Well, if you can’t support us, I’m leaving’ – she took their child and left.”
To make such situations even worse, these employees lost their benefits including mental health benefits, “so just when that guy needs to talk to a counsellor the most, he can’t. He can’t afford it, and he has no benefits. Never, never did I ever expect to see the government of our country treat its own employees with such cruelty. Never.”
Letters from Union President to Members:
December 15, 2023
Re: Purolator Inc. Covid-19 Decision
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Yesterday afternoon, your local union, Teamsters Local Union No. 31 received a historic decision that will have a lasting impact on the rights of all workers. The covid-19 policy at Purolator Inc. was called into question by the Union and the company was found to have unjustly terminated the employment of owner-operators and placed hourly members on unpaid leave who refused to get vaccinated with a covid-19 vaccine.
Before I present the conclusion of the arbitrator’s report, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the remarkable team at Teamsters Local 31 and our esteemed legal counsels, David Reynolds and Riley Kearns. Their tireless commitment and perseverance in advocating for our affected members have paved the way for this remarkable outcome. Their hard work has been pivotal in ensuring Justice prevails for our members.
After an extensive arbitration chaired by Arbitrator Nicholas Glass spanning nearly a year, a conclusion has been reached. The decision spans across 196 pages, outlining the following key points:
- The hourly paid grievances are upheld. The group grievance is upheld. The grievors are entitled to be compensated for their losses which will include any lost wages and benefits, between July 1, 2022 and their first day of work following May 1, 2023.
- The owner-operators’ grievances are upheld. They are entitled to be compensated for their losses commencing the first date that they lost revenue from being denied the use of a vaccinated relief driver. There is no common end date for their losses at this point the losses are yet to be determined.
- Dan Moes’ grievance is upheld with full compensation from the first day of his dismissal, or the first loss of revenue from being denied use of a relief driver, whichever came first.
- The administrative non-attestation termination grievances, either individually or as a part of the group grievance, are upheld. These grievors are entitled to the same level of compensation as the other grievors in their category.
- The res judicata preliminary objection is dismissed.
- I reserve jurisdiction to determine quantum with respect to all grievances.
- I reserve jurisdiction on any other matters arising, including interpretation, or implementation with respect to this award.
This decision, made by Arbitrator Nicholas Glass on December 14, 2023, serves as a testament to the strength and unity of our union, reaffirming our commitment to defending the rights and ensuring fair treatment of our members.
Your patience, unwavering support, and solidarity throughout this challenging period have been invaluable. As we move forward, let us remain united and resolute in our pursuit of fairness and justice for all.
Teamsters Local Union No. 31
December 15, 2023
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Re: Purolator Inc. Covid-19 Decision
This is to advise members that we have now received a decision from the arbitrator in the Purolator vaccine mandate case. The decision is approximately two hundred (200) pages long and it will take more time for our legal team to read and digest and make recommendations as to how we proceed from here. At this state we will provide our affected members with a “Broad Brush” outline below.
- Hourly Employees – The Union did not dispute that the vaccines were initially (i.e. summer/fall 2021) effective to prevent Covid infection, but that effectiveness waned overtime and had very little preventative effect after the only Omicron variant became dominant in early 2022.
The arbitrator upheld this argument in part, and concluded that by June 30, 2022, the Purolator mandate was unreasonable. Hourly employees should therefore received compensation for lost wages after that date.
- Owner-Operators – Owner-operators placed on leave of absence in January, 2022, were denied the opportunity to use their relief drivers to cover their routes. The arbitrator ruled that Purolator acted improperly in denying the owner-operators this right. Accordingly, owner-operators should receive compensation for lost income from January 2022 until their return to work May 2023.
There are many details not mentioned above. Circumstances in individual cases will need to be addressed. Typically, at this state the Union and Employer legal counsel try to agree upon exact dollar amounts owing to each employee. Where thy cannot agree, the arbitrator issues a binding order for payment. This can take a surprisingly a long period of time, particularly for owner-operators.
It is also worth remembering that Purolator has filed three (unsuccessful) court applications to date in efforts to stop the arbitration proceedings while they were underway.
Now that Purolator has been unsuccessful in the result, it is not impossible it will try again to to challenge the outcome in court (although we do not see any grounds for review by a court), or delay payment of compensation.
We hope to provide further information in the coming weeks and to provide copies of the decision. There could be some delay of providing the official version of the decision.
While we are very pleased with this result, a very great amount of work has gone into achieving it, and quite possibly more work will be required to get cheques in the hands of the affected members.
Accordingly, we request your patience, the Union will provide further information in the coming weeks.
Teamsters Local Union No. 31.
December 14th decision in British Columbia (Full)
Landmark Ruling: Arbitrator Decides on Legitimacy of COVID-19 Policies
On December 14, 2023, Teamsters Local Union No. 31 received a historic decision that will have a lasting impact on the rights of all workers. The COVID-19 policy at Purolator Inc. was called into question by the Union, and the company was found to have unjustly terminated the employment of owner-operators and placed hourly members on unpaid leave who refused to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.
After an extensive arbitration chaired by Arbitrator Nicholas Glass spanning nearly a year, a conclusion has been reached.
The decision spans across 196 pages, outlining the following key points:
THE ISSUES CONSIDERED
- On or about September 15, 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the employer implemented
- Employees in British Columbia are represented by the union, a member of the Canada Council of Teamsters which is the bargaining agent for all unionized employees across Canada, pursuant to a federal Certification.
- A number of employees in the union’s bargaining unit elected not to be vaccinated. The
- There were 14 individual owner operator grievances. There were 8 original individual hourly paid grievances. The evidence was unclear whether there were employees potentially entitled to compensation under the group grievance who did not file individual grievances.
- The hourly paid grievors all made the same complaint about being placed on an unpaid leave of absence (“LOA”) and sought the same relief as the group grievance. A number of them were called upon by Purolator to re-attest their vaccination status by November 16, 2022. Some failed to provide an updated attestation by that date and were advised shortly afterwards that their employment relationship with Purolator was “consequently administratively terminated, effective immediately.” The union provided notice to Purolator that this new action was grieved, but reasserted its position that these new complaints were covered by the group grievance. The employer submits these terminations are not before the arbitrator.
- The SWP was suspended by the employer on April 30, 2023.
- The hourly paid grievances are upheld. The group grievance is upheld. The grievors are entitied to be compensated for their losses which will include any lost wages and benefits, between July 1, 2022 and their first day of work following May 1, 2023.
- The owner operators’ grievances are upheld. They are entitled to be compensated for their
- Dan Moes’ grievance is upheld with full compensation from the first day of his dismissal,or first loss of revenue from being denied use of a relief driver, whichever came first.
- The administrative non-attestation termination grievances, either individually or as part of the group grievance, are upheld. These grievors are entitled to the same level of compensation as the other grievors in their category.
- The res judicata preliminary objection is dismissed.
- I reserve jurisdiction to determine quantum with respect to all grievances.
- I reserve jurisdiction on any other matters arising, including interpretation, or
What You Can Do?
Now that we have witnessed a significant Arbitrator’s decision regarding the COVID-19 vaccine policy at Purolator, it’s crucial to understand that our voices, your voices, can shape the narrative and bring about change. This landmark ruling has far-reaching implications, and we can’t afford to let it go unnoticed. Here’s what you can do to make a difference:
1. Spread the Word
Share the blog post detailing the Arbitrator’s decision on your social media platforms. Use your voice to amplify this message. Encourage your friends, family, and acquaintances to do the same. The more people who are aware of this ruling, the greater the impact it will have.
2. Engage in Conversations
Initiate discussions about the Arbitrator’s decision in your social circles, workplace, and community. Encourage open dialogues where people can express their opinions and concerns. By fostering conversations, you help raise awareness and understanding of the issue.
3. Contact Local Media
Reach out to local newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels. Share the blog post and the significance of the Arbitrator’s decision with journalists and reporters who cover employment-related topics. They may find this story newsworthy, helping it reach a broader audience.
4. Contact Your Representatives
Get in touch with your local political representatives, whether at the municipal, provincial, or federal level. Share the ruling and express your concerns. Ask them to take a stand on the matter and advocate for workers’ rights and medical freedom.
5. Join or Support Advocacy Groups
Connect with advocacy groups, organizations, or individuals who champion workers’ rights and medical autonomy. Collaborate on initiatives aimed at safeguarding personal liberties in the workplace and beyond.
6. Educate Others
Educate yourself further on the Arbitrator’s decision and the broader implications it carries. Equip yourself with facts and data to counter any misinformation or confusion. By becoming informed, you’ll be better prepared to engage in meaningful discussions.
7. Encourage Participation
Encourage fellow MST members and friends to participate in these actions. Together, we can leverage our collective strength to effect change. Share resources and guidance to empower others in their advocacy efforts.
In the spirit of Manitoba Stronger Together, let’s ensure that this Arbitrator’s decision doesn’t go unnoticed or unaddressed. By taking these actions, we can make a powerful statement about the importance of respecting individual rights and freedoms, not only in the workplace but throughout our society.
Remember, every voice matters, and your active involvement can be the catalyst for positive change. Together, we can protect our fundamental liberties and create a better future for all.
Thank you for your dedication to this important cause.
Arbitrator finds Purolator’s termination of employees who declined COVID vaccines was unjust
Purolator has been ordered to provide compensation to employees who were “terminated” for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine after nearly a year of arbitration, a Teamsters union has announced.
Arbitrator Nicholas Glass, in a Dec. 14 decision, has ordered Purolator to compensate members of Teamsters Local Union No. 31 in Prince George, B.C., for any lost wages and benefits between Jan. 1, 2022, and their first day of work following May 1, 2023.
“The COVID-19 policy at Purolator Inc. was called into question by the union, and the company was found to have unjustly terminated the employment of owner-operators and placed hourly members on unpaid leave who refused to get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Local 31 president Stan Hennessy in a Dec. 18 letter to members.
Purolator introduced a policy on Sept. 15, 2021, requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 1, 2021. Employees who did not comply with the policy or qualify for an exemption were placed on unpaid leave as of Jan. 10, 2022.
Lawyer Leighton Grey sent the company a cease-and-desist letter on April 25, 2022, arguing that the vaccines were experimental, had no long-term safety data, did not stop the spread of the virus, and could cause severe side effects.
In response, Purolator counsel Simon-Pierre Paquette said on April 26 that the claims in Grey’s letter were “factually inaccurate,” and that the company’s mandate was enacted in compliance with “all applicable legislation” and would not be done away with.
Purolator Suspends Employee Vaccine Mandate the Same Day Lawsuit Against Company Is Discontinued
Hundreds of Purolator Employees to Launch Lawsuit Over Mandatory Vaccination
A lawsuit was then filed against the company in May by hundreds of unionized and non-unionized employees seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in punitive damages.
Purolator suspended its COVID-19 vaccine mandate on April 13, 2023, and asked employees who had been placed on unpaid leave to return to work by May 1. The announcement came the same day that Mr. Grey discontinued the lawsuit against the company, telling the Epoch Times that it had run into a “procedural brick wall” due to several Supreme Court of Canada decisions denying plaintiffs access to the courts if they are in a union.
Mr. Hennessy said that while the union did not dispute the fact that COVID-19 vaccines were initially effective at preventing COVID-19 infection in the summer and fall of 2021, their usefulness had significantly waned by the time the Omicron variant of the disease was circulating in early 2022.
“The arbitrator upheld this argument in part and concluded that by June 30, 2022, the Purolator mandate was unreasonable,” the letter reads. “Hourly employees should therefore receive compensation for lost wages after that date.”
According to Mr. Hennessy, the arbitrator also found Purolator “acted improperly” when denying owner-operators, who had been placed on a leave of absence, the opportunity to use relief drivers to cover their routes. Those employees should receive compensation for lost income from January 2022 until their work return to work in May 2023, the arbitrator ruled.
Mr. Hennessy said the exact payouts owned to each employee were still being worked out between the union and Purolator. He noted that the company had filed three unsuccessful court applications to attempt to stop the arbitration process in the past, so “it is not impossible it will try again to challenge the outcome in court.”
“While we are very pleased with this result, a very great amount of work has gone into achieving it and quite possibly more work will be required to get cheques in the hands of the affected members,” he said.
Purolator did not respond to the Epoch Times’ request for comment by publication time.
IN-DEPTH: Legal Battles Over COVID Measures Continue in Canadian Courts
December 24, 2023
The pandemic may be over, but the legal battles over various government restrictions and mandates continue. A plethora of cases have made their way through the courts this year and will continue through 2024. In these cases, judges are deciding the limits of Canadians’ freedoms and government power.
One of the most prominent cases is the ongoing trial of Freedom Convoy organizers Tamara Lich and Chris Barber. Another is the so-called Ingram decision in Alberta, in which a judge ruled—on a technicality—that the province’s public health orders were invalid.
The Ontario Superior Court, on the other hand, upheld the validity of public health orders in a Nov. 27 decision.
Other cases include family disputes over whether vaccines were “safe and effective” for children, pastors who refused to stop public worship, business owners who refused to check vaccination status, and employees fired over workplace vaccination mandates.
Health-care workers who were critical of COVID measures have been subjected to disciplinary hearings with their professional regulators, but some have also brought those regulators to court for judicial review.
Some cases have yet to be heard or ruled upon, while some that have been decided are being appealed. Some hope to take their cases all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide whether COVID measures violated charter freedoms.
The Lich-Barber Case
Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber face charges of mischief, counselling others to commit mischief, and intimidation. They helped organize the Freedom Convoy, which gathered in downtown Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates in early 2022.
In a controversial move, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to clear the protest, the first invocation of the act since it became law in 1988.
The Freedom Convoy has been a test of civil liberties in Canada. What does it mean to “cross the line,” as the prosecution claims the defendants did, and become a “criminal” rather than a “protester”? That question is being determined in the case.
Ms. Lich’s call on protesters to “hold the line” despite police orders to leave the capital is among the actions being scrutinized as a criminal act. She has said she wasn’t encouraging the protesters to stay in the capital, but rather to stay true to their values.
Alberta pastor Arthur Pawlowski was found guilty for uttering similar comments during the Coutts border blockade in 2022. “Don’t you dare break the line,” he told protesters in a speech. His counsel argued he meant this figuratively, but the judge analyzed the speech and its context and decided Mr. Pawlowski “deliberately incited the protesters to commit mischief.”
Lawyers in the Lich-Barber trial have sought to establish how much influence the two had over protesters in Ottawa, the extent to which they cooperated with police, and the extent to which the two worked together (the Crown prosecutor has argued they collaborated so closely that evidence against one should apply to both).
The trial began in September and was due to end mid-October, but it has continued for more than 30 days and is currently adjourned until the new year.
The government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act was scrutinized by Public Order Emergency Commissioner Paul Rouleau earlier this year. In his Feb. 17 report, Mr. Rouleau concluded with “reluctance” that the government was justified in invoking the act, but he highlighted failures in policing and government action that led to a state of emergency.
The Lich-Barber trial is now delving more into the details of what happened leading up to this landmark use of the Emergencies Act, formerly the War Measures Act.
Ottawa residents and business owners testified at the trial as to the impact the protest had on them. A $290 million class-action lawsuit against Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber is being led by one of those residents, Zexi Li. The suit claims the protest caused psychological distress and loss of income due to business closures.
The story of the Ingram decision (named after one of the plaintiffs who challenged Alberta’s health measures) comes with twists and turns.
Critics of COVID mandates got the victory they wanted: Public health measures were ruled invalid, and charges were dropped against many who had violated them. But it came in an unexpected, roundabout way.
Essentially, the judge ruled the measures invalid because elected officials put them in place. Legally, the judge said, the provincial medical officer is the only one with the authority to do so.
But that caused an uproar in itself. Some have said that only elected officials should have that kind of power, not the unelected medical officer.
As a result of the ruling, new legislation has been tabled in Alberta to make sure decision-making authority rests with elected officials should a health emergency again arise.
The victory of the Ingram decision was also tempered by the judge’s decision regarding charter rights. The judge said that health measures infringed on charter freedoms but that it was a justified infringement given the public health emergency—an idea repeated by other court decisions following the pandemic.
Michael Alexander is one of the lawyers who intends to take matters to the Supreme Court if needed, to have Canada’s top court decide if such infringements on charter rights are indeed justified. Mr. Alexander’s clients include Ontario doctors censured by their regulatory body, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
One of the allegations against these doctors is that they were publicly critical of COVID measures, including questioning the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Mr. Alexander argues that their right to free expression should protect them from disciplinary action.
The most recent tribunal decision in these cases was against Dr. Mark Trozzi in October, finding that he committed professional misconduct. He’s still waiting to hear what the penalty will be, and whether he will lose his licence. Mr. Alexander says Dr. Trozzi will appeal the decision to a divisional court.
Dr. Theresa Szezepaniak of British Columbia recently lost her appeal to a hospital board in an attempt to get back to work amid a doctor shortage. She hasn’t complied with vaccine mandates for health-care workers and has thus lost hospital privileges in the province.
About 2,500 B.C. health-care workers lost their jobs over their choice not to be vaccinated, according to the Vancouver Sun. From Nov. 20 to Dec. 1, the B.C. Supreme Court heard the case of 11 health-care workers who are challenging provincial vaccine mandates.
Employees in many other professions are fighting loss of wages, termination, and employment insurance refusals over vaccine mandates. Some of those cases are currently playing out in labour arbitration, while some are in the courts.
Fired for Non-Vaccination
In a Dec. 14 arbitrator decision, the Purolator courier company was ordered to compensate employees who were fired for not complying with vaccine mandates.
In May, a military administrative tribunal found that Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) vaccine mandates violated the charter rights of soldiers who refused vaccination. It said the mandates were “arbitrary” in some aspects and “overly broad.” More than 300 CAF members have filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against the military over the issue.
In September, a federal social security tribunal ruled in favour of a Toronto delivery driver, Timothy Conlon, who fought the denial of his employment insurance (EI) benefits after losing his job for refusal to be vaccinated.
However, the tribunal ruled against Robin Francis, a worker at the London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., who sought EI after his termination for refusing the vaccine. Mr. Francis took the matter to the Federal Court of Appeal, which decided in November to uphold the denial of his EI benefits.
Some workers who refused vaccination have complained that their unions failed to represent them.
The Alberta Labour Relations Board recently ruled in favour of the unions in one such case. Ottawa Hospital employees were recently notified that their union had dropped their grievances over unpaid leave due to not being vaccinated.
Lawyer James Kitchen told The Epoch Times that some of the most successful employee fights against vaccine mandates have been won outside the courts, in backroom conversations.
“I helped some people keep their jobs and stay in school in 2021–2022 despite not taking the shots. This was not done through courts, but simply through my advocacy with the employers/universities,” he said via email. He said he also helped nurses and doctors in Alberta and British Columbia avoid discipline through such advocacy.
‘Safe and Effective’ for Kids?
During the pandemic, courts also often decided on family disputes over whether children should be vaccinated. Mr. Alexander highlighted a couple of examples of this type of case, including O.M.S. v. E.J.S. in Saskatchewan.
In 2021, Saskatchewan’s Court of King’s Bench—then called the Court of Queen’s Bench—Justice Michael Megaw ruled that a 12-year-old girl must be vaccinated according to her father’s wishes. The girl and her mother were against the vaccination.
The mother brought the matter to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, which in January this year overturned the decision, siding with the mother.
“The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that it is inappropriate to refer to any approved medication as ‘safe and effective’ since every medication has side effects and the potential efficacy of any medication varies based on each patient’s unique health profile,” Mr. Alexander said, explaining what he finds especially significant in this case.
The safety of the vaccine was not the key element in the appeal judges’ decision—it was based more on the mental well-being of the child and her relationship with her father being damaged by forcing her to be vaccinated. But, as with many legal cases related to the pandemic, the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines and other measures were discussed at length in the decision.
The appeal judges said that “safe and effective” has its limits, as Mr. Alexander said, and that government approval does not mean the vaccine’s safety could not be “the subject of debate among reasonable persons.”
A similar family dispute in Ontario demonstrates how judges can look at the same case differently.
In J.N. v. C.G., a mother argued against her ex-husband’s wish to vaccinate their two youngest children, aged 10 and 12 at the time.
Superior Court Justice Alex Pazaratz ruled in the mother’s favour in a February 2022 ruling. Mr. Pazaratz said the mother “presented all her evidence and made all her oral submissions in a calm, mature, articulate, analytical, extensively researched, and entirely child-focussed manner.” He said the father was on a “relentless campaign to dismiss the mother as some sort of lunatic” and that he “bordered on hysterical.”
The father appealed the decision, however, and won. In the February 2023 ruling, the appeal judges criticized the mother’s presentation, saying that it “relied on information obtained from the Internet, primarily from those who cast doubt on the importance and safety of the vaccine.”
Mr. Alexander said this decision gives the federal government too much “benefit of the doubt” about its representation of the vaccine as safe, and places “an almost impossible burden of proof” on parents with concerns. He said the evidence the mother submitted included the Pfizer monograph listing side effects and articles by experts such as Dr. Robert Malone, a pioneer of mRNA technology.
The Year Ahead
Mr. Alexander has high hopes for his case with Dr. Trozzi in the new year, which will be heard at the Ontario Divisional Court, a branch of the Ontario Superior Court. The crux of it will be Dr. Trozzi’s right to publicly express his opinion on the safety of vaccines and other COVID matters.
“His case will determine whether we still live in a liberal democracy that guarantees everyone the right to freedom of expression,” Mr. Alexander said.
Mr. Kitchen said one of his cases that could have a great impact in the new year is that of Calgary chiropractor Dr. Curtis Wall. A College of Chiropractors of Alberta disciplinary tribunal in January this year found that Dr. Wall had committed professional misconduct primarily because he didn’t wear a mask while treating patients.
The doctor tried to for some time, but found that the mask caused him to feel anxious and claustrophobic, he says. He says he felt the science didn’t show any likely harm to others by his not wearing a mask. Dr. Wall is appealing the decision to the college’s Council. The hearings on his case thus far have brought forward expert testimony on both sides regarding the efficacy of masks during the pandemic.
Mr. Kitchen says many cases of people who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates will continue in 2024, with some only likely reaching a decision by the end of the year or later.
The Lich-Barber trial will resume on Jan. 4. And in the separate $290 million class-action suit, lawyers representing Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber and other defendants are currently awaiting a decision on their request to have the case thrown out.
The lawyers say it’s a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Under anti-SLAPP legislation, defendants can ask a judge to take a preliminary look at the case and determine whether it has enough merit to proceed to trial.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) is representing them in this case. JCCF president John Carpay said in a recent Epoch Times op-ed that the amount of time and resources being used to try Ms. Lich and Mr. Barber is inordinate.
“While Ontario prosecutors seem to lack the resources to bring accused rapists to trial within 30 months, the Crown has chosen to spend taxpayer-funded resources to prosecute Lich and Barber over vehicles that may have been parked illegally during the peaceful Freedom Convoy protest,” he wrote.