Migrant farm workers can unionize

Manitoba labour board ruling first of its kind in Canada
By
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 07/09/2007

Foreign farm workers at a Portage La Prairie, Man., fruit and vegetable farm are the first in Canada to be able to join a union.

The Manitoba Labour Board ruled on Tuesday that dozens of migrant workers, mostly from Mexico, at Mayfair Farms could form a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).

"We're pleased with the board's decision," UFCW Canada Local 832 president Robert Ziegler said in a statement. "The decision shows that seasonal workers who come to our province to work will be offered the same protection as Canadian workers working beside them."

The UFCW applied for certification at Mayfair Farms last September. The union claimed it signed up more than 65 per cent of the 59 workers, which under Manitoba law leads to automatic union certification.

However, the employer claimed the seasonal Mexican employees were not employees under the Manitoba Labour Relations Act. Then in October, 43 of the workers signed statements saying the union misled them and that they did not want to join the union.

The labour board ruled the workers' objections were "untimely" and "did not allege misconduct," and did not grant the workers standing at the certification hearing.

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