Last week former Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (our name before we became the RWU following our disafiliation) International Representative Ray Haynes was arrested for standing on railroad tracks in White Rock in protest of coal trains headed to Delta Port. The following article written by Rod Mickleburgh appeared in the May 10th edition of the Globe and Mail:
Haynes happy at last
It was, thought the old trade union leader, a blot on his labour copy book.
Despite active involvement in the trenches of numerous wildcats and illegal strikes, particularly the bitter Lenkurt Electric shutdown of 1966 that sent four labour leaders to jail for contempt of court, and seven years at the helm of the then-powerful B.C. Federation of Labour, Ray Haynes had never been arrested.
The fact gnawed at him. Until now.
Last Saturday, still militant after all these years, Mr. Haynes stood on the railway tracks passing through White Rock, and briefly stopped a coal train headed to Roberts Banks. He was arrested by the RCMP, along with 12 other protesters, including Simon Fraser University professor and environmentalist, Mark Jaccard.
“It’s off my bucket list,” a smiling Mr. Haynes said of his arrest.
The experience didn’t come easily. He travelled the day before from his Sunshine Coast home for the anti-fossil fuel protest, arrived on the scene at 5 a.m. and waited all day through the chill, before a coal train finally showed up about 6 p.m.
By then, the feisty trade unionist could barely move. His legs were essentially frozen stiff. “I was in bad shape,” he recalled. “I couldn’t get into the paddy wagon. They had to lift me up.”
He was booked, photographed and fined $115.
The cause was worth it, according to Mr. Haynes. The threat to the global environment from fossil fuels, such as coal, is simply too stark to be ignored, he said.
“The experts are saying that if we don’t do something, it will soon be too late.” Mr. Haynes turns 84 next month.
RWU Provincial Representative Shawn Lakusta congratulated Brother Haynes on crossing an item off on his bucket list. “I consider my self very lucky to have over the years received some very wise counsel from someone like Ray. Ray and his colleagues fought many battles over the years with the end result being that working peoples lives have been improved. Its always an honour to hear from Ray.”
We at the RWU are wondering what bucket item Ray will be looking to cross off next.