A work stoppage in Edmonton involving UFCW Canada and a lucrative logistics company may impact the way Alberta workers fight for fairness and equality in the future. Earlier this summer, 200 UFCW Canada Local 401 members went on strike against their employer – warehousing giant McKesson – over a number of workplace justice issues, including wage parity and anti-harassment provisions.
As the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America, the McKesson Corporation operates large operations across Canada, including a facility in Calgary where workers earn more than the striking Local 401 members for doing the same work.
Besides resisting the union’s modest proposals, McKesson is challenging a picket line’s right to briefly delay all vehicles entering and exiting a striking workplace, something workers have traditionally done to help inform visitors and vendors about the reasons behind the labour dispute.
If accepted by the Alberta Labour Relations Board, the McKesson challenge could deliver a major blow to the labour movement. Striking workers in Alberta have long enjoyed the right to picket peacefully while trying to “persuade anyone not to enter the employer’s place of business, operations, or employment; deal in or handle the products; or do business with the employer,” as stated in the Alberta Labour Code.
While there has been no bargaining between the parties since the commencment of the strike, new talks between UFCW 401 and McKesson are scheduled to begin later this month, on August 26 and 27.
In the meantime, UFCW Canada activists, friends and supporters wishing to find out more and assist the striking McKesson workers can contact Local 401 directly by visiting www.ufcw401.ca.
Vol. X No. 33 • August 23, 2010