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Toronto – October 23, 2014 – UFCW Canada leaders, staff, and labour lawyers from across Canada and the United States, recently gathered in Toronto for a conference focused on the law and its impact on workers, unions and employers. The UFCW Canada 2014 Lawyers’ Conference drew more than 90 participants to the event, where they shared approaches and best practices for some of the common legal problems that Local Unions deal with across the country. “We are all here to ensure that our members receive the best service, the best collective agreements, and the best representation of any union in Canada,” said National President Meinema at the opening session of the two-day forum. “This conference is an opportunity for the UFCW Canada family to grow our skills and understanding of how we can utilize the law as a tool for progress in making the lives of working people significantly better.”
From the Supreme Court, to labour boards, to arbitration tribunals — UFCW Canada and UFCW Canada Local Unions have been at the forefront of numerous cases which have redefined the labour environment in Canada. Some of these cases were at the centre of panel discussion including the successful UFCW Canada case against Mexico for blacklisting UFCW Canada migrant worker members in British Columbia; the recent court victory in Quebec against Walmart’s closure of its store in Jonqueire after members there unionised with UFCW Canada Local 503; UFCW Canada Local 401’s Supreme Court victory upholding the right of unions to videotape strike-breakers; and UFCW Canada legal breakthroughs and challenges, at the national and Local Union level, to secure collective bargaining rights for migrant seasonal agriculture workers.
The impact of the ultra-conservative, anti-worker agenda on labour laws and governing bodies was also on the program, with American case studies and analyses of how to stop the Right-to-work-for-less agenda in Canada. Other updates including arbitration trends, medical records confidentiality, employee drug testing, duty to accommodate, and using the Charter to pursue worker labour justice, just to name a few of the topics — were delivered by a Who’s Who of some of Canada’s leading labour-side lawyers and academics.
"These two days have been significant in building a more cohesive national legal and litigation strategy," said Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada’s general counsel. "With an increasingly hostile environment for working families, our Conference was an opportunity for UFCW Canada staff, leaders and lawyers to work collaboratively to protect the hard fought gains of the last 30 years."