Deceased fisherman’s family fighting for $30,000 life insurance benefit

by Leo Almazora11 Aug 2017
The family of a fisherman killed in an accident last week is fighting to get a life insurance benefit that’s being withheld because he was a day late in paying union fees.

On Aug. 1, Newfoundland fisherman Calvin Tobin got into an accident near Clarenville where his vehicle collided with a transport truck, reports CBC News. At the time of the crash, Tobin was 25 years old. When doctors were working to save his life, he was 24 hours overdue on union fees.

According to his family, that’s the reason why the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) is holding up his life insurance policy payout, which is worth $30,000.

“For the sake of one day really … they are refusing to pay out his benefits,” Richard Brewer, Tobin’s uncle, told the news outlet. His wife Carolann was named as Tobin’s next of kin. The money would have been used to help Tobin’s grandparents, who need it to supplement the little income they get from their old-age pensions.

Brewer, who is also a member of the FFAW, is now arguing to get the compensation. The union declined to comment on Tobin’s specific case when contacted by CBC News, but it sent information on its insurance policy.

FFAW union cards are valid for one year, from Aug. 1 to July 31. Members are issued new cards only if their dues for the previous year have been paid. If Tobin’s dues for 2016-2017 had not been paid in full, his union card would not have been renewed on the day of his accident.

Doctors called Tobin’s time of death during the early hours of Aug. 2. At the time, his coverage under the FFAW insurance policy provided by Sun Life Financial had been expired for 33 hours.

According to Brewer, Tobin may have believed his union fees were already taken care of. Union fees are typically taken automatically from a fish harvester’s paycheque once they sell their catch. The FFAW confirmed that this is the standard practice, but added that it notifies members who fall behind on dues.

Fish harvesters were upset at the start of the season after finding out that their 2016 union dues had been taken out in a lump sum from their first paycheque.

The FFAW told CBC News it could not comment on money that Tobin owed the union. But Brewer believes that since Tobin had fished enough this season for him to draw unemployment, Tobin’s dues should have been paid already.

“Calvin was fishing all year and got his stamps again this year," he said. "Where did his union dues go to?"


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