A woman exempted from joining a union because of her religious beliefs

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A woman exempt from joining a union because of her religious beliefs

The Saskatchewan woman, a Jehovah's Witness, says she can only be loyal “to the kingdom of God.”

Saskatchewan's Labor Relations Board has granted a exemption to a woman who argued that she could not join any political organization, including a union, because of her religious beliefs.

This woman, a Jehovah's Witness , represented herself at the hearing.

She believes she should be loyal only to the kingdom of God, the ruling dated September 29 reads.

She acknowledges that many governments and unions are trying to improve people's living conditions, but there are limits to what earthly governments and political organizations can do, the decision further underlines.

This woman also explains that the Kingdom of God is a solution to all Earth's problems and will create the conditions that will benefit everyone. It will supersede all other earthly governments and remove any need for institutions, the text states.

The woman acknowledged that there is no religious teaching which prohibits union membership and that her position is a matter of interpretation of her faith.

She also indicated that not all Jehovah's Witnesses are of this opinion.

Even though this woman is exempt from paying union dues, she will still benefit from all the working conditions negotiated by the Saskatchewan General and Government Employees Union (SGEU).

According to Kevin Banks, a law professor at Queen's University in Ontario, this is an atypical case that dates back decades.

Many labor lawyers will probably never have to deal with these kinds of issues in their practice, he says.

He added that cases of this kind occurred decades ago but that there were probably only a handful in the whole country at that time.

For Mr. Banks, the Board made it clear that this was an exceptional circumstance and that the woman had to prove a deep and long-held belief.

The Board exercised some depth and care in coming to the conclusion that [this woman's beliefs] were genuine, the expert believes.

York University Law Professor Valerio De Stefano agrees that this complex case has been carefully considered.

D&#x27 On the one hand, there is the need not to undermine union security clauses, a pillar of our labor legislation. On the other hand, there is the protection of deeply held and demonstrable religious beliefs, he points out by email.

According to him, even if it is debatable that unions be considered political organizations, the Commission was unwilling to engage in a theological examination.

Contacted, an SGEU official said that he had no comment on the matter.

With information from Jason Warick

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