Paris, Ont. – January 14, 2014 – UFCW Canada Local 206 members at the Swiss Chalet in Paris, Ontario are rejoicing after winning a hard-fought first collective agreement. Following a year-long battle with the company — in which the restaurant owners and management refused to recognize Local 206 as the workers' official bargaining agent and attempted to decertify the union — the Swiss Chalet employees voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying a first contract late last month.
The workers' struggle began in December 2012 when the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ruled that the company wrongfully interfered in its employees' effort to join the union by firing one of the workers who initiated the organizing campaign. The Board decided that the dismissal was an attempt to punish the employee for their involvement in the unionization drive, and reinstated the worker while certifying Local 206 as the official bargaining agent for the restaurant.
However, the restaurant owners appealed the certification ruling and refused to negotiate with the union until the OLRB ruled on the appeal. After the Board rejected the appeal and upheld its original decision, the company reduced the hours of certain employees and formally attempted to decertify the union.
Despite these scare tactics, a large majority of Swiss Chalet workers voted to ratify a first collective agreement in December 2013. As part of the newly ratified contract, the Paris Swiss Chalet workers will receive health and welfare benefits, three additional paid statutory holidays, a wage increase of nearly $3 per hour for kitchen staff, a boot allowance, and the right to choose their own shifts based on seniority.
"The Paris Swiss Chalet members showed enormous courage and commitment in achieving this hard-won victory, and we're extremely proud of them," says UFCW Canada Local 206 President Wayne Hanley. "In the face of intense intimidation from their employer, the members were determined to stand up for their rights, and ultimately their efforts paid off."