UFCW calls on government to enact bold labour law reform in wake of Changing Workplaces Review Final Report
Toronto – May 23, 2017 – UFCW Canada supports a number of the recommendations put forward in the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report, released today, but says the Ontario government must go further by enacting bold labour law reform that includes card check certification, automatic first contract arbitration, and sectoral bargaining.
"Our union welcomes the report’s recommendations to introduce broader based bargaining, expedite the first contract arbitration process, improve successor rights, and include all workers under the Ontario Labour Relations Act," says Paul Meinema, the National President of UFCW Canada. “We are also encouraged to see recommendations supporting expanded vacation and family leave entitlements, and the elimination of the student and liquor servers’ minimum wage.”
“However, after two years of extensive consultations, UFCW would like to see the province use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to pursue bold labour law reform that benefits all workers in Ontario,” says the UFCW Canada leader. “That is why we are calling on the government to go beyond the report’s proposals by enacting card check certification, automatic first contract arbitration, and sectoral bargaining.”
Authored by special advisors C. Michael Mitchell and the Honourable John C. Murray, the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report is part of the Ontario government’s ongoing review of the province’s labour laws and standards. This is the first time the government has examined the province’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act in more than a generation.
The government is reviewing Ontario’s labour legislation out of recognition that current laws and standards have allowed for a rise in temporary, contract, and low-paying work and precarious working conditions for far too many workers in the province.
UFCW Canada shares this position, which is why our union put forward a number of recommendations that would help strengthen Ontario’s economy, ensure that workers in Ontario are treated fairly at work, and enable hard-working Ontarians to better provide for themselves and their families. Those recommendations, presented to the government as part of UFCW Canada’s submission on the Changing Workplaces Review, include:
Implementing Card Check Certification
• Enacting card check certification would make it easier for workers across the province to gain the union advantage, which includes higher wages, better health and dental benefits, and improved job security. By signing a union card, a worker is clearly indicating their desire to join a union, and when a majority of workers have signed cards, the union should be certified as their official bargaining agent.
Enacting Automatic First Contract Arbitration
• Introducing an automatic first contract arbitration system would enable workers and employers to reach peaceful resolutions when negotiations break down at the bargaining table. When workers have exercised their democratic right to join a union, they should also have the right to a first contract, whether that agreement is reached through collaboration or imposed by an experienced and impartial third party arbitrator.
Introducing Sectoral Bargaining
• Implementing a sectoral bargaining system would create a level playing field that could prevent low-wage competition by introducing minimum wage and work standards in various industries, such as the retail and security sectors. By taking this approach, the province could create an economy where every worker benefits.
“Now is the time to ensure every worker in Ontario is treated fairly at work and is able to enjoy a decent quality of life,” says Shawn Haggerty, the President of the UFCW Canada Ontario Provincial Council. “While we welcome many of the forward-thinking recommendations outlined in the Changing Workplaces Review Final Report, our union is urging the Ontario government to go further by pursuing bold and progressive labour law reform that includes card check certification, automatic first contract arbitration, and sectoral bargaining. Hard-working Ontarians deserve nothing less,” Haggerty adds.
As Canada's leading union for retail and food workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) represents over 250,000 workers across the country – and more than 105,000 members in Ontario – working in the food retail and processing, agriculture, and hospitality industries, as well as other sectors of the economy. UFCW Canada is the country's most innovative organization dedicated to building fairness in workplaces and communities.