TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Local Canadian Pacific Railway workers picket in front of Fisher’s Auto Electric along Pacific Avenue Wednesday.
The owner Fisher’s Auto Electric says the Canadian Pacific Railway strike is disrupting business.
Steve Fisher’s shop is located next door to the CP Rail office on Pacific Avenue, and was upset to find striking workers picketing in front of his business Wednesday.
"I think it’s totally disruptive, it’s ruined my day," Fisher said.
"I can’t focus because it’s such an interruption to me."
About 120 local CP Rail workers went on strike as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, as part of a cross-Canada strike.
Fisher said he is concerned about his business’ public image.
"So first image is concerning me," he said.
"When the public drives down, and how many customers I may lose due to the fact that they won’t cross a picket line, even though I’m not part of the picket line."
Fisher said business was down Wednesday, and believes he lost a few customers due to the picket line.
"It’s my personal opinion that they should only picket in front of their own location, so strictly in front of their office … or parking lot," Fisher said.
Fisher contacted Brandon Police Service and CP Rail police, but was told there was nothing they could do, since the workers are on public property.
"As long as the picketers are on the public sidewalk, they’re free to be there," BPS Const. Ron Burgess said.
Fisher has been in business since 1998, and at his Pacific Avenue location since 2001.
Pacific Avenue property owner Jarod Crane said it’s a "unique situation," with a unionized business on one side, and a private business on the other.
"It’s extremely unfortunate that Mr. Fisher has to get caught in the middle," Crane said, adding it’s disconcerting that the Brandon police "just kind of throw their hands up in the air and aren’t willing to help either … It is a public sidewalk ... but again there’s something to be said for being a good neighbour also."
Ed Holleman, strike captain and local chairman for the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference said they notified the local police in advance of the strike, and are well within their rights.
"We’re making sure that everything’s legal and within the law, unfortunately Mr. Fisher has a different opinion of it," Holleman said.
"It’s public property. The guys are under strict instructions to keep moving, not allowed to loiter or stand in one spot on the sidewalk in front of his place … We’re doing everything to the letter of the law."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 24, 2012