Unifor delays union vote at Toyota's Canada plants



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TORONTO (Reuters) -- The union pushing to organize workers at Toyota Motor Corp.'s Canadian plants said on Thursday it would delay a union 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 labor 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," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said 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 Canadian plants 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 Labor 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."

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