National President challenges Trudeau over party’s partisan attack on UFCW 232 members

National President challenges Trudeau over party’s partisan attack on UFCW 232 membersToronto – May 1, 2015 – Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada, has called on Liberal leader Justin Trudeau "to express my grave concerns that the labour and collective bargaining rights of members of UFCW Canada Local 232 have been dragged through the mud for partisan purposes by Mr. Dominic Leblanc, your party's parliamentary House Leader and representative on the Board of Internal Economy."

Meinema was reacting to comments made earlier by Leblanc, who chastised the NDP for providing an office space to a union representative servicing the NDP national caucus staff. The members of the caucus staff are represented by UFCW Canada Local 232. The provision of the space is contained in their collective agreement, "and is not something extraordinary or questionable," Meinema pointed out in a letter sent to Trudeau on Thursday. "In fact, such a good faith provision is typical in hundreds of private and public sector professional, retail, service, and industrial workplaces across Canada."

"For Mr. Leblanc to choose to frame this as somehow illegitimate is not only partisan and unjust, it also sends a message from the Liberal Party of Canada that unions and the labour movement can be abused in the eyes of the public, and in parliament, as cannon fodder in a partisan political battle. Union members in Canada have to come to expect this from the Prime Minister and his Conservative government, but that does not mean they find it acceptable, and certainly not expected from a Liberal opposition party that in advance of the next election has pronounced its commitment to labour rights, the union movement, and fairness for working people."

UFCW Canada is one of the country's leading private-sector unions. UFCW Canada members work coast to coast, including the NDP national staff members on the Hill and in constituency offices across Canada. "Canadians need to know whether Mr. Leblanc was speaking on his own behalf, or for the Liberal party," says the UFCW Canada leader. "Mr. Trudeau must be transparent about where exactly he and the Liberal Party actually stand when it comes to the labour rights of Canadians. Good faith collective bargaining is protected by the Charter and hardworking men and women who choose to have a union should not have that right turned against them."