Monday, October 27, 2008

Hard to Get to Know Jenn McGinn

Above photo from Jenn McGinn's campaign website

Although "Get to Know Jenn McGinn" is the headline on the website of the NDP candidate in the current by-election in Vancouver-Fairview, it is not so easy to get to know her. McGinn ignored a written request by CUPEwatch to state her position on alleged abuse and illegal conduct by her campaign funders, CUPE, BC Federation of Labour and their respective leaders Barry O'Neill and Jim Sinclair, in what has become known as the “secretary scandal”. The alleged illegal activity was reportedly intended to silence secretaries about unfair labour practices inside CUPE.

The secretary scandal involves documented evidence that CUPE, with the cooperation of BC Fed President Jim Sinclair, allegedly employed intimidation tactics in an attempt to muzzle a secretary from CUPE Local 116 after she blew the whistle about unfair labour practices. The secretary had complained to Sinclair and O'Neill about the fact that CUPE was staffing the Local 116 office exclusively with non-union secretaries and then firing them when they complained about triple workloads. The whistle blowing secretary was highly credible as she was the only woman NOT fired from Local 116; she had earlier resigned her secretarial position and received a glowing letter of reference.

There is evidence to support allegations that CUPE, the BC Federation of Labour, and lawyer Ian Aikenhead (a former NDP President) arranged for the Vancouver Police to “harass” the whistle blowing secretary at her home. (The Vancouver Police do not have jurisdiction at Local 116 which is on the UBC Endowment Lands.) The secretary was shocked to discover that a polite, professional, letter she had sent to Sinclair about working conditions at Local 116 was filed in the Police Property office. A similar letter she had sent to O'Neill was filed there too.

There are also allegations of “evidence tampering” in this case. The secretary learned from the police report that a woman pursuing the issue of unfair labour practices with CUPE or the BC Fed is considered to be engaging in “WORKPLACE HARASSMENT”. The secretary then told Sinclair that she intended to ensure that this labelling stuck to his reputation. Later, she discovered that the label on the “CLOSED” police report had been retroactively – and illegally – altered to drop the word “WORKPLACE” and substitute “HARASSMENT/OBSCENCE COMMUNICATION”.

Although McGinn won’t state her position on the secretary abuse issue, the whistleblowing secretary has always been clear about her own position: If CUPE and the BC Fed think it is obscene or harassing for a woman to bring abuse of non-union secretaries inside CUPE to their attention, Jenn McGinn should not have been taking money from them. “She should have told them to stuff it”.