The BC Supreme Court has distinguished the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Pepsi-Cola in issuing an injunction against picketing of Prince Rupert Grain’s terminal elevator by the Grain Workers Union, Local 333. The Grain Workers have been locked out by five grain terminals in the Port of Vancouver as part of an industry collective bargaining dispute. Prince Rupert Grain is not a part of the industry bargaining association and is negotiating a separate collective agreement. It is neither on strike nor locked out. However, its shares are owned and the most of its directors are appointed by the same grain companies that own the Vancouver grain terminals. After the lockout in Vancouver began, grain that would have been shipped to Vancouver was sent instead to Prince Rupert, which re-opened its terminal early for that purpose. The union claimed its picketing was protected by the Charter right to freedom of expression as stated in Pepsi. Chief Justice Brenner ruled that the purpose of picketing in the Pepsi case was to persuade customers and others not to do business with Pepsi while it was struck. But Prince Rupert Grain was not receiving product from the locked out employers and the openly stated purpose of the picketing was to shut down Prince Rupert Grain, not to persuade it to refrain from doing business with the locked out employers. The shareholding and directorships were an insufficient nexus with the locked out companies to justify a refusal to issue an injunction. This is one of the first cases to delineate a significant limitation to the scope of the Pepsi decision and has important ramifications for employers. Prince Rupert Grain was represented by Harris & Company counsel.
(Click here for BC Supreme Court reasons for decision)