Pre-vote, Unifor outlines priorities of 1,000 surveyed Toyota workers

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image: flickr/Alan Cleaver

As Toyota workers in Cambridge and Woodstock prepare to vote on whether to certify Unifor as their union, Unifor is hinting at what might be included in a collective agreement if the workers choose to unionize.

On Tuesday, Unifor released a new charter outlining the top priorities of almost 1,000 workers surveyed during the organizing drive and how Unifor plans to address their concerns.

The rights of contract workers at the plants topped the list of concerns. Of those surveyed, 67 per cent thought that contract workers should be made full-time workers with seniority and just under 90 per cent thought that contract workers should receive retroactive pension credits for years of service.

Workers also want to ensure that there are protections against layoffs, as well as recall rights. In addition, there are concerns about everything from pensions to dental and vision plans.

In response, Unifor is proposing what they are calling a "made-for-Toyota" agreement, which will include trying to make all contract employees permanent. The comprehensive document addresses everything from increasing wages to creating opportunities for workers to improve their skills and have a better work-life balance.

Releasing the charter to the public a week before the vote is part of a strategy to ensure that workers at both plants have as much information as possible before the vote next week.

"Ensuring that people are making an informed decision -- that is a primary objective," explained Unifor national director of organizing John Aman.

Unifor is still busy organizing -- campaigners will be trying to get union cards signed right up to the day of the certification vote.

The push is important, not just for the workers at Toyota, but for those trying to organize auto workers across North America.

"It's definitely going to be an important victory, not just for the Toyota employees themselves, but for Unifor and the Canadian movement," said Aman said.

Toyota workers will vote next week on whether they want Unifor to represent them as a bargaining agent. Results of the vote are expected later in April.

image: flickr/Alan Cleaver

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