Canadian Airline Files $4 Million Libel Suit Against 22 Striking Fuel Workers Over Twitter Account With ~200 Followers

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

Labor disputes can certainly get nasty at times, but Porter Airlines out of Canada has filed a $4 million libel lawsuit against some striking fuel workers based on tweets they sent out, which the airline claims involved “false and misleading information about safety protocols and training practices” by the airline. The strikers, who only just unionized last year, include just 22 workers who handle helping to fuel up the planes. Their twitter account, @PorterStrike, only had about 200 followers at the time (though it’s now up to a whopping 400). The union quickly hit back, saying that the tweets were protected free speech, and no different than typical striking talk by union members:

“Before Twitter and social media, these things would have been said in a union hall and on a leaflet,” said COPE Ontario legal representative Glenn Wheeler. “The Charter of Rights provides for free expression, freedom of association. So we think we are in our constitutional rights to offer our version of the way we see things. That’s fair comment.”

That’s an interesting choice of words, because he doesn’t actually say that the statements were true, which would be the best defense to libel. However, even if the statements were questionable, one has to wonder how much actual “damage” they might do. One would like to expect that statements made by striking workers against their employer would already be viewed through a specific prism, and given how few Twitter followers there were, you’d have to imagine that Porter would have a difficult time showing any actual harm from the tweets in question. Separately, I wonder how much more of a reputational hit the company will take for suing less than two dozen striking workers for $4 million over some tweets…

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Companies: porter airlines

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Comments on “Canadian Airline Files $4 Million Libel Suit Against 22 Striking Fuel Workers Over Twitter Account With ~200 Followers”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

Geez, this piece shows how insanely aggressive management can be WITH a union.

Without unions that struggled to wrest common decency from heartless capitalists, sonny, you wouldn’t have a 40-hour week or be getting overtime pay, to say the least. Read a little history and you’ll find capitalists in America were some of the most ruthless tyrants ever.

You arrived in the resulting good times and are stupid to think that without modern protections you can go up against corporations.

Not that unions haven’t been taken over and organized into gangs, nonetheless the good they achieved for working people largely endures.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

Capitalism – providing the highest standard of living in the history of the Planet!

Socialism – sucking since it started – Unhappy people: 91% of French (Socialist) think economy is doing badly; 67% think Hollande is doing poor job

Communism – Killing 100+ Million since it?s inception?Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Cuba, N. Korea? EVIL

OFTB is a Communist sympathizer, pushing MURDERING COMMUNIST policies!!

Sir Hubert Featherstone says:

Re: Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

You should stop by my factory if you are ever seeking gainful employment. I think you would be perfect for whipping these lazy poor ingrates for me. They just want to blab on about overtime pay and vacation time. I’m not paying them to have a family.

Anyway, I’ll be switching the town to a scripts economy soon. So come whip some people and yell “Capitalism!” a lot, whip anyone you even looks like the might say monopoly extra hard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

Capitalism – providing the highest standard of living in the history of the Planet for the one percent


How many people think the us congress is doing a good job?

Yup, perpetual war is definitely the way to go, just look at those stock prices. And we can get the illegals to join the voluntary military in return for citizenship thus sidestepping the obvious problems we would have with reinstating the draft, which would be necessary after we run out of young easily influenced poor and middle class teens.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

OOTB’s post actually made sense and then came that batshit crazy reply.

Capitalism is an economic system

Then you claim that France and Holland are socialist countries, which they are not, as proof that capitalism sucks? Because France and Holland both use capitalism as their economic system.

Then you bring in Communism which you declare as evil. The system isn’t evil, the people that manipulate it are evil. Pssst capitalism can be the economic system in a communist state.

In short, spend some more time in school or use the internet to actually research what words mean before using them in a public space where people can highlight your insanity.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

LOL! You haven’t got a clue, have you?

Tell me again about those people with the highest standards of living and how Socialism is EEEEVILLLLL111eleventyone!!

Unfettered capitalism for the win ? if you’re in the 1%. For the rest of us, we’d better pray they don’t get rid of any more of the safety net or we’re screwed. There’s no mercy in the market and all that crap about “generous” Libertarians isn’t saving the lives of people dying from treatable illnesses because they can’t afford to pay for their medical care, etc.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Unions R not needed -- NO, clearly ARE!

I agree that unions were useful. As you said, they got us the 40 hour work week, overtime pay, sick leave, and the like. They also got us one more thing that you and quite a few others seem to overlook; labor laws. The 40 hour work week is a law, overtime compensation (not necessarily pay) is a law.

Today unions seem to be all about taking massive amounts of money from those they supposedly protect (e.g. insanely high union dues) and screwing over anyone and everyone they can (e.g. the Hostess thing).

There may be legitimate unions, they may even have a place in modern society; but every time I’ve read about unions or dealt with them, they or on the morally wrong side of the argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

the best form of defense is attack. i cant help wondering, therefore, if what has been said is the truth and to try to quell the talkers, the company thinks issuing a law suit is the answer? like stated in the article, they could get more than expected from this stupid move in the form of less passengers

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