Monday, October 18, 2010

Court of Appeal upholds union certification of a Walmart store in Saskatchewan

The Court’s ruling is the latest chapter in legal process Walmart has dragged out since 2004

Saskatoon (19 October 2010) – The highest court in Saskatchewan has upheld a decision to certify a union at a Walmart in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

In a unanimous decision released last week the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal upheld the certification of a United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW Canada) Local 1400 bargaining unit at the Weyburn store. The certification had originally been issued by the Saskatchewan Labour Board in December 2008.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has worked with the UFCW Canada for many years to support the drive to organize Wal-Mart workers.

Walmart had successfully challenged that certificate in a lower court but that court’s decision was struck down by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, and the store’s union certification upheld.

“This is a victory for workers rights and the principle that no company is above the law,” said Norm Neault, the president of UFCW Canada Local 1400. “Walmart has done everything it could to prevent the workers from getting a collective agreement. It has even prevented us from communicating with the workers at the store. But the time for stalling is over. Let’s get back to the bargaining table and start talking.”

The Court of Appeal’s ruling is the latest chapter in legal process Walmart has dragged out since 2004, when Local 1400 first applied to the Saskatchewan Labour Board to represent the Weyburn workers. A series of Walmart legal maneuvers stalled the process until 2008, including a failed bid by Walmart to have the Supreme Court of Canada intervene.

“The Supreme Court has said ‘No’ to them. The Court of Appeal has said now said ‘No” to them, and ‘Yes’ to the rights of the Weyburn workers to bargain collectively,” said Neault.

“We look forward to the opportunity to get these members an agreement, and hope that Walmart’s history of thwarting the process isn’t repeated again.”

It was the second time in a week the courts have ruled against Walmart. Just two days prior to the Saskatchewan ruling, the Quebec Superior Court upheld an arbitrator’s decision that Walmart had acted illegally when it shut a store in Jonquiere, Quebec shortly after workers there formed a union.

Meanwhile, UFCW Canada members at a Walmart in Gatineau, Quebec recently achieved a first contract. UFCW Canada members at a store in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec also have a contract in place.

In Saskatchewan, UFCW Canada Local 1400 also has applications pending before the labour board for Walmart stores in Moose Jaw and North Battleford.

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