Abbotsford, B.C. – December 6, 2017 – Despite a strong anti-union campaign waged by the employer, about 226 workers at Rossdown Farms and Natural Foods have voted to join UFCW Canada Local 1518. Rossdown is an integrated poultry farmer and processor located in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
“It’s a great victory for these workers,” says UFCW 1518 Union Representative Ravi Dhindsa. “They know the poultry industry in British Columbia is largely unionized, and they know that their wages in a non-union shop were well below the industry standard. Now, with a union standing behind them, they can fight for fairer compensation and a better workplace.”
“It’s an honour to be able to help the Rossdown members get the respect they deserve,” says UFCW 1518 President Ivan Limpright. “They know that workers are always stronger when we unite together, and with the union in their corner, they’ll be able to raise their collective voice and fight for fairness,” he adds.
According to Dhindsa, respect was at the heart of the organizing drive. “There was a lot of favouritism, which resulted in some workers getting higher wages and more vacation than others. This fundamental lack of fairness, coupled with management’s flagrant disrespect for the workers, pushed them to unionize.”
Workers voted to accept UFCW 1518 as their bargaining agent despite Rossdown’s strident anti-union campaign. “The company used intimidation to try to scare the workers away from the union,” Dhindsa says. “They threatened closure. They said breaks would be shortened. They said UFCW 1518 would not be able to make any positive changes.”
Thanks to a solid inside committee, union organizers were able to reach out to members and educate them about the benefits of unionization. Days before the vote, UFCW 1518 held a rally outside of the Rossdown poultry processing plant. “We made certain to have signs in Punjabi, as 80 percent of the workers are Punjabi,” says Dhindsa.
“As soon as we get the formal certification from the Labour Relations Board, we’ll notify the employer that we want to begin bargaining right away. We are ready to negotiate a strong first collective agreement with the improvements that our members deserve,” Dhindsa adds.