Sarnia Observer

November 1983

Union Member, wife granted absolute discharges by judge

A longstanding feud between the business manager of Sarnia Local 1089 of the International Laborers Union and a union member was resolved by a provincial judge Wednesday, who granted an absolute discharge to the member charged with assault.

Union member Joseph Portiss, 32, of 215 Trudeau Dr. and his wife Evelyn, 29 who was charged with making a threatening phone call after her husband was injured at a union hall scuffle June 9, each received an absolute discharge.

Judge Andrew Lang ruled in Provincial court at Sarnia, Portiss struck union business manager Rocco D'Andrea, 49, of 1334 Ryerson Crt. with his fist in a dispute at the union hall on Confederation Street, because he perceived a like danger. But Portiss used "more force than necessary" to prevent an assault.

The six-hour trial saw eight witnesses called, six by the Crown. Most of them were union members.

Portiss had pleaded not guilty but his wife pleaded guilty to threatening Mr. D'Andrea. Lang considered his decisions to be for the best interests of the accused and not contrary to public interest.

The dispute between Portiss and Mr. D'Andrea erupted after a union meeting when the two men disagreed over the benefits available in a union welfare plan. The judge said the background to the argument was a long history of union discord at Local 1089 between supporters of Mr. D'Andrea and Portiss.

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