Wal-Mart employees hope to decertify union

Zellers employees get their jobs back 15 years later
By Zachary Pedersen
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 03/10/2011

Employees at the first Canadian Wal-Mart store to successfully sign a collective agreement and stay open have filed a request with the Quebec Labour Relations Commission to decertify the union.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 501 filed the request against the St-Hyacinthe, Que. store in February 2011. A decision could be made as early as this week.

The UFCW has been battling Wal-Mart for years in an attempt to organize the corporation’s Canadian workers. In fact, international headlines were made in 2005 when the company shut down its newly unionized store in Jonquière, Que. before a collective agreement could be imposed. Wal-Mart defended the decision saying the store wasn’t profitable.

Local 501 finds the current application suspicious and is asking the commission official responsible with verifying the employees’ request to “assure that it was done is a free and voluntary way,” said UFCW national representative Anouk Collet to the Toronto Star.

The request for union withdrawal is supported by 147 of the store’s 205 unionized employees, according to Alex Roberton, Wal-Mart’s Quebec director of corporate affairs.

Accreditation transferred from Lac-St-Jean store to Alma store

The Labour Relations Board is ordering the reinstatement of Zellers employees who lost their jobs 15 years ago. The 60 employees had their jobs terminated when the Galéries Lac-St-Jean, Que. store integrated with another Zellers close by in Alma, Que. — with non-union labour.

Zellers has 60 days following the Feb. 23, 2011 decision to reinstate the employees. They are also to receive benefits they were denied, along with wages (plus interest) lost since their 1995 termination, minus wages earned elsewhere during that period.

This decision was originally reached in 2000 when the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) union, which represents the employees, brought the issue to the Labour Relations Board. A series of appeals has delayed the implementation of the judgment.

While the CSN views this as a victory, current employees at the Alma Zellers, who became members of the CSN in 2000, feel as though they have been mistreated by the union and fear for their jobs.

“My clients expect to lose their jobs in a few months,” says Denis Bonneville of Cain Lamarre Casgrain Wells, lawyer for the Alma employees. “We are studying the decision and will be presenting a judicial review in a couple of weeks.”

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