Custom officer’s letter crossed the line for border agency

Union official suspended for writing letter to U.S. government outlining concerns about agency’s recruitment and training
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Vice-president of union takes concerns to U.S.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the union for customs officers pushed for more tools to help them enforce security at the border, such as handguns. The union was also at odds with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) regarding the fact students were allowed to perform front-line security checks with regular officers, despite the fact they had less training. John King, the union’s vice-president, finally felt the need to bring the union’s concerns to the attention of another stakeholder — the United States government.

King wrote a letter to Tom Ridge, the secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, about the union’s main concerns and how they might affect security at the Canada-U.S. border.

When CBSA learned of the letter, it wasn’t pleased. What ensued was a debate between the right of unions to criticize employers and how far that right goes.

An executive of a customs union has been reinstated after being suspended for sending written criticism of Canada’s border security to the United States Department of Homeland Security.