It took four years of legal wrangling, but another Canadian Wal-Mart store has become unionized. The Winnipeg Sun reports this week that the Saskatchewan Labor Relations Board has ruled the Wal-Mart employees at the store in Weyburn are now certified as a unit of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The certification means that Wal-Mart must now begin collective bargaining with its workers. “I want to welcome our newest members and congratulate the workers for standing up to Wal-Mart,” said Paul Meinema, the president of UFCW Local 1400. “This has been a long time coming and it is a victory for them and for all Wal-Mart workers.” The Weyburn store is only the beginning of additional union certifications in Saskatchewan. Two other stores in North Battleford and Moose Jaw are also being reviewed by the SLRB. Wal-Mart Canada officials would responded to the decision by saying that the retailer will be asking the Labor Board to reconsider its hearing, which will only delay the inevitable. Wal-Mart claims that only 29 of its 104 sales workers in Weyburn were on staff when the union first submitted its certification application on April 19, 2004. Wal-Mart wants the Labor Board to require that workers vote by secret ballot on whether they want a union. “We are disappointed that our associates in Weyburn were not given the chance to vote on whether or not their store would become unionized. There is no indication that there is any widespread support for the union based on the numbers.” Wal-Mart told The Sun that Quebec and Saskatchewan provinces have “union-friendly labor laws.” In its effort to quash union activity in Canada, Wal-Mart appeared before the Canadian Supreme Court two years ago, arguing that the Labor Board was biased, and should not be given jurisdiction over union cases at Wal-Mart. The retailer lost that argument. Wal-Mart Canada has already shut down two store in Quebec after a majority of workers signed cards saying they wanted a union. Two more stores in Quebec are also waiting to hear word if their units will be certified for collective bargaining.
Wal-Mart workers at three stores in Quebec are already represented by the UFCW. In April of 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal from Wal-Mart regarding the jurisdictioin of the Labor Board over its workforce. Wal-Mart is now arguing that the rules in Saskatchewan have changed since its workers first filed their petition for certification. Andrew Pelletier, Vice President for Wal-Mart Canada, told the media that legislation in Saskatchewan has been changed to require a vote. Readers are urged to call Andrew Pelletier at Wal-Mart Canada’s main office in Mississauga, Ontario at 905-821-2111 with the following message: “Dear Mr. Pelletier, It is time for Wal-Mart to get out of the way of its workers — both in Canada and the U.S. — who want to be better represented in the area of wages, benefits and working conditions. Your ‘associates’ are the folks who make Wal-Mart profits. Just this week more than 100,000 workers were awarded a $54 million wage settlement over ‘off the clock’ work, meals and rest breaks that were unpaid. No wonder your workers do not feel they are being given a fair shake. Too often your ‘open door’ policy has meant ‘open your mouth and you’re out the door.’ Wal-Mart should drop its appeal of the Weyburn decision, and start bargaining in earnest to give workers better wages and benefits on the job. Take better care of your people, and work with your employees — not against them.”