Calgary – April 27, 2018 – Workers at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Calgary are the newest members of UFCW Canada Local 401 after winning a major victory at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.
During the organizing campaign, managers at the hotel fired union supporter Aaron Doncaster. The company probably thought this was the end of the campaign. But for the first time in thirty years, the Alberta Labour Relations Board ordered that workers facing illegal employer actions can have their union – in this case, UFCW Canada Local 401.
According to Doncaster and UFCW 401 Organizer Joe Irving, workers at the hotel decided to join the union after experiencing mistreatment, favouritism, improper pay practices on overtime and tip calculations, health and safety concerns, and a lack of dignity and respect from management.
Shortly after the campaign began, Doncaster was terminated. In a Labour Board complaint filed by UFCW Local 401, evidence showed that Doncaster had been illegally fired for his union activities, and so the Board offered him reinstatement with compensation.
In addition, the Government of Alberta recently enacted the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplace Act, which allows the Labour Relations Board to issue remedial certifications. In other words, employers who break the law during organizing drives can run the risk of immediate unionization as a remedy for their illegal actions.
“When an employer threatens the livelihood of workers for freely exercising their human rights, which includes the right to join a union, they are really making that decision for workers,” says UFCW Local 401 President Douglas O’Halloran. “Employers should never decide whether workers have a union or not.”
“This is a major victory for workers at the Hilton hotel and for all Alberta workers who want to join a union,” O’Halloran adds. “Empowered by better legislation, the Labour Board has sent a clear message to employers who would commit unfair labour practices by seeking to threaten or intimidate workers for exercising their human rights: if you fire a worker, you will get a union.”
Doncaster describes the victory as “a new day for working Albertans.” When he learned of the certification, he exclaimed, “thank you to all who supported us through this ordeal. This is the happiest day of my life!”
UFCW Canada Local 401 is Alberta’s largest private sector union, representing 32,000 workers in food and beverage production, retail, health care, education, hospitality, and other sectors.