CFB Kingston issues ‘cease and desist’ letter to PSAC Regional President

Public Service Alliance Canada (PSAC) employees picketing at CFB Kingston on Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2023. Submitted photo.

Ten days into the national Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston has issued a “cease and desist letter” to the local union president, claiming those picketing have engaged in illegal activity.

The letter, addressed to East Region PSAC President Christopher Snooks, was delivered to the union president – who represents the Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE) with Local 641 – at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Apr. 28, 2023.

In the letter, which Kingstonist has obtained a verified copy of, Colonel Sonny Hatton, Commander of CFB Kingston, details that today’s communication comes after CFB Kingston had already engaged in communications with Snooks, as well as “Local 00641 leader and picket line captains who are participating in illegal picketing.”

Department of National Defence (DND) employees represented by PSAC have been in a legal strike position since Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2023, and many of them have joined fellow PSAC members across Canada in picketing. At the heart of the currently failed negotiations between the union and the federal government, pay and remote work have been the focus for the government employees on strike. The job action has resulted in one of the largest work stoppages in Canadian history. CFB Kingston expressed that they understand and respect that DND employees and their fellow union members have the right to strike, and to picket.

“We respect the union’s right to strike and to engage in peaceful picketing for the purpose of communicating information. We expect that strike activity will be conducted lawfully and will respect the Essential Services Agreements that were signed by both PSAC and the Treasury Board,” Commander Hatton wrote in the letter.

“Although the majority of locations across the country have been lawfully picketed, it has come to our attention that at certain locations… Picket Captains and their fellow picketers have prevented CAF members, employees occupying essential, excluded, and unrepresented positions, as well as other personnel, from entering CFB Kingston,” the letter detailed.

Those locations, according to CFB Kingston, include “but are not limited to” the RMC Gate, McNaughton Gate, Vimy Gate South, and Vimy Gate North Gate, on the grounds of CFB Kingston, according to the letter.

“Under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, these employees do not have the right to strike and are expected to report to work. Furthermore, there are approximately 3,500 CAF members and their families who are being denied free unobstructed movement to and from their residences at CFB Kingston. Blocking access to premises, obstructing the public or employees from entering or leaving premises, and significantly delaying vehicles (5-15 minutes total delay is seen as excessive) may constitute various offences under the Criminal Code and may also render the employees involved liable to administrative and disciplinary action, as well as other measures,” the letter concluded.

“We therefore respectfully ask that you take appropriate measures to ensure that all unlawful picketing activities cease immediately. If they continue, we will have no other option but to pursue available legal options without further notice.”

This is a developing story. Kingstonist will provide continued coverage as more information becomes available.

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