Sears workers fired because of union activity, says UFCW

Union claims about 100 workers at Belleville, Ont., distribution centre were let go as a reprisal for their unionization efforts

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has made an interim application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to force Sears Canada to reinstate about 100 workers at a distribution and call centre in Belleville, Ont.

UFCW claims the workers were terminated on March 9 by Sears in an attempt to stop a union organizing drive. There are about 1,500 workers at the Belleville distribution and call centre.

According to the UFCW, a union organizing campaign began there in early 2006 after workers at the Belleville location contacted the union. The interim application, filed on Monday, follows an unfair labour practice charge laid by the union against Sears last Friday, the union said.

“The terminations were affected to penalize employees for supporting the unionization of the distribution centre and as a reprisal for exercising their rights under the Labour Relations Act,” the union said in a press release. “The union specifically asserts that the employer terminated the union’s key inside organizers and the entire union committee of seven employees. The persons selected for termination were known or believed by management and the employees to be supporters of the unionization of the distribution centre.”

The UFCW went on to say that “because of Sears’ ‘pre-meditated conduct,’ UFCW Canada argues in its charge that this is an appropriate case for s. 11 relief to be granted. Specifically, in light of the premeditated misconduct undertaken by the employer, the union respectfully submits that nothing short of certifying the union pursuant to s. 11(2) will redress the harm caused.”

The union said it expects the labour relations board to hold a hearing on its interim application by the end of the month.

How to respond to a union organization drive

Peter Israel, a partner with Israel Foulon LLP in Toronto, talked about the dos and don'ts of responding to a union organization drive in the April 30, 2003, issue of Canadian Employment Law Today. For more information, read his article by clicking the link below:

Dos and don’ts of responding to a union organization drive

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