Abbotsford Man Wants Exemption from Cross Guard Union


One member of a British Columbia church wanted to use religious belief as an excuse to not join a cross guard union.

Apparently, the B.C. Labour Relations Board heard from a man from Abbotsford. The particular evangelical sect of the Abbotsford man from Plymouth Brethren Christian Church doesn’t allow socialization outside of the sect.

The union is the local Teamsters. He offered to give finances equivalent to the union dues to charity rather than join the union. The day-to-day lives of the members are highly constrained. A representative wrote to the B.C. Labour Relations Board for the man.

The letter stated, “It is our religious conviction that we cannot join or financially support an employee’s union. This request … is not based on any hard feelings toward any individual or to the Labour organization. Rather, it is based on principles that we have found in God’s Word and as upheld by our church.”

On January 29, the application for exemption was rejected. The Labour Code of B.C. stipulates the exemptions apply to preclusion from belonging due to religious belief.

David Duncan Chesman, Board Vice Chair, stated, “As the beliefs or ‘conviction’ of the church upon which the application relies have not been particularized or identified and as no explanation of their incompatibility with trade unionism has been provided, I am not satisfied that such beliefs are incompatible with trade unionism.”

In fact, the church, Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, enforces a Doctrine of Separation for its membership, which means the rest of the world and the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church community.

In other words, the application gave the believes, but the church gives explicit beliefs for public consumption and internal community enforcement. They find technology, communication, media, and schools, outside of the church community as a negative force for their world.

Socializing with anyone outside of the church is forbidden, streng verboten. The B.C. Labour Relations Board provided some exemptions to some churches in the past, but not this time.

With files from CBC News and Jason Proctor.

Photo by Benjamin Jameson on Unsplash

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