Unifor removes picture of Regina restaurant owner mistakenly used in union's 'Meet the Scabs' video

The photo of a Regina restaurant owner included in a union video identifying replacement workers who has crossed a picket line has been removed after what is being called a case of mistaken identity.

Unifor, which represents locked-out workers at the Co-Op Refinery Complex in Regina, recently posted a video titled "Meet the Scabs," which included a photo of Kalpesh Patel.

The video identifies people Unifor says are replacement workers crossing the picket line at the refinery, where about 700 workers have been locked out since early December.

The video shows workers either working at the job site or images pulled from social media, which is where the picture of Patel came from.

The Kalpesh Patel pictured is not a replacement worker, though — he is co-owner of Birmingham's Vodka & Ale House in Regina.

Co-Op has confirmed another man named Kalpesh Patel works, or had worked, for the refinery, but that the co-owner of the restaurant and bar is not that person.

"What Unifor is doing with the release of this video and what they have done in the past to individuals … is simply indecent," Brad DeLorey, director of communications and public affairs for the refinery, said in a statement.

Unifor previously made a similar video during a 2018 labour dispute in Gander, NL.

The law firm Linka Howe Peterson confirms that it is representing Patel, and that he and lawyer William Howe sent a letter alerting Unifor Local 594 to the issue.

An employee of the firm told CBC News the letter demanded Unifor remove the video and issue an apology, and that the firm has instructions to proceed with a defamation lawsuit if Unifor didn't do so by Friday evening.

Unifor has removed Patel from the video, but no public apology had been made as of Thursday. The union says it intends to release a similar video in the future with the correct Kalpesh Patel.

Kalpesh Patel/Facebook

A communications representative for Unifor argues the union is within its rights to release such videos.

"No one crossing a picket line has an expectation of privacy," said Unifor spokesperson Ian Boyko.

He cites a 2013 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which he says established that "not only can unions circulate and broadcast photographs of scabs, but the judges explicitly recognized that public shaming of picket-line crossers is a legitimate union practice."

Workers at the Co-Op refinery were locked out on Dec. 5, after negotiations broke down between management and the union, largely over the issue of employee pensions.

Prior to the lockout, Federated Co-operatives Limited, which owns the refinery, gave employees the choice of moving to a defined contribution pension plan, or staying with the existing defined benefit plan.