UFCW Finally Wins A Battle With Wal-Mart

Aug 03, 2004

By George Anderson

As the expression goes, “If at first you don’t succeed…”

Up till now the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), otherwise known as the union that couldn’t organize Wal-Mart, has suffered a string of defeats in its attempts to be certified to represent the retailer’s store associates.

Thanks to a labor board in Quebec, however, the UFCW may just finally win one in its head-to-head competition with the world’s largest retailer.

A ruling yesterday by the Quebec Labor Relations Board gave the UFCW the accreditation it sought to represent workers in a store in Jonquière.

Wal-Mart has said it will appeal the ruling. The company questions if certification was granted legally since it was done without a vote by the store’s employees.

A Wal-Mart company spokesperson, Andrew Pelletier, said, “If the labor board has certified that store without a vote, we would have some very serious concerns because we would question whether the true wishes of the employees were being reflected.”

Employees at the Jonquière store previously voted on union representation last April. The UFCW lost by eight votes in that tally.

According to a report on the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Web site, the UFCW did not need another vote to get certified. Quebec labor laws required the union to wait three months and get enough union cards signed by store employees to be accredited.

Marie-Josée Lemieux, president of Local 503 of the UFCW, who called the employees at the store “trailblazers” said, “Of course, there can be an appeal. But I dare hope that they will respect the wishes of the workers.”

Moderator’s Comment: Assuming the Quebec Labor Relations Board ruling stands, what are the implications for Wal-Mart?

Labor laws in Canada appear to be much more union-friendly than they are here in the U.S.

Wal-Mart Canada may find itself in the years ahead negotiating collective bargaining agreements with the UFCW but we’re not looking for the same here, at
least not in the foreseeable future.

George Anderson – Moderator

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