Union Worker Who Earned Six Figures Now Homeless
Victims of violence often face a difficult road during recovery, but for one Canadian longshoreman a beating four years ago has left him penniless, homeless and wondering what to do next.
It was in 2008 when Malcolm Neale got into a fight with another longshoreman at a job site in North Vancouver, British Columbia, The Province newspaper reports. Neale, 42, said that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a drunken co-worker, who struck him savagely with a metal pipe.
"All I did was go to work," the Vancouver newspaper quotes him as saying. "I was struck several times with a metal pipe and it's completely turned my life around," said Neale, who once earned yearly wages of 120,000 Canadian dollars (about $116,000 at today's exchange rates). He added, "I'm homeless."
Neale received CA$180,000 in an out-of-court settlement following the incident, but medical and legal bills left him with a much smaller sum -- CA$50,000.
Further, union rules require that he surrender the CA$2,200 monthly disability payment to which he's entitled to restore the CA$180,000 payment to union coffers.
In other words, Neale won't receive a monthly disability payment until the full amount is repaid -- in three more years. Neale, who has been unable to work since the incident and lives in a shelter, gets by on a CA$900 disability pension payment from the Canadian government.
Neale called the shelter "disgusting and depressing" and said that he suffers from acute anxiety and prolonged post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I have pleaded with the union to restore my benefits," he said. "They refused outright."
Neale told the newspaper that he believes he is being penalized for filing a lawsuit against members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and their employer, Western Stevedoring.
But a spokesman for the longshoremen's union said the compensation rules, which have been in place for three decades, have been applied fairly.
"The payments are being offset until the settlement is used up," the newspaper quoted the unnamed spokesman as saying. "When somebody receives a third-party settlement, we expect to be paid."
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. Follow David on Twitter. Email David at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add David to your Google+ circles.more...