Toyota union vote delayed

More than 3,000 workers already on board: Unifor

(Reuters) — The union pushing to organize Toyota Motor Corp's Canadian plants said on Thursday it would delay a worker vote after Toyota said some 7,500 employees would be eligible to join the unit, nearly 1,000 more than the union had believed.

The news is a setback for Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union, which filed for certification with the Ontario labour board on Monday and said voting would start next week.

Unifor said it would withdraw its application while it gets more union cards signed. It said more than 3,000 workers have already signed.

"That is too much commitment for anybody to ever walk away, and we would never let them down," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias at a press conference. "We won't let them down."

The majority of workers must vote "yes" for a union to be formed. A "yes" vote would be a big win for Unifor, making Toyota's two Canadian operations the first wholly owned Toyota facilities in North America to unionize.

Toyota spokesman Greig Mordue said Toyota has hired 1,000 new contract workers and transferred about 1,000 to permanent status since the beginning of 2013.

Mordue said the company would ask Unifor to return the information it now has on Toyota workers, and may challenge the process under privacy laws.

"As part of the process under the Labour Relations Act we're obliged to provide a full list of every team member in the bargaining unit," said Mordue.

Mordue said the list included the names, work locations and positions of all of Toyota's production and maintenance workers, whether they are on leave and the last day they worked.

"More concerning is that Mr. Dias has indicated that he fully intends to use this list in his ongoing unionization efforts," said Mordue. "We think this is a serious privacy issue and one we'll be taking up under privacy legislation."

Dias said the union is entitled to the information by law.

"That's ridiculous," he said in an interview. "That's just another obstacle ... another way that the high-priced Bay Street lawyers are trying to stop the workers from forming a union."

Mordue said Toyota executives would discuss the next steps the company will take in the coming hours.

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