History is made: St-Hyacinthe Wal-Mart gets collective agreement!

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Unionist
History is made: St-Hyacinthe Wal-Mart gets collective agreement!

Quote:

It took nearly four years, but unionized workers at a Quebec Wal-Mart store now have their first collective agreement, a first in North America.

A Quebec arbitrator sealed the two-year deal for employees at the St-Hyacinthe Wal-Mart east of Montreal earlier this week.

Some 200 workers at the store received their union accreditation in January 2005, but called on an arbitrator when contract negotiations with the retail giant stalled.

The new agreement includes a $0.30 per hour wage increase on a yearly basis, for the next two years, for current employees. ...

Employees at three Saskatchewan stores, and one other Quebec outlet have also applied for union certification.

[url=Source.[/url]">http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2009/04/09/mtl-walmart-sthyacinthe-unioniz...

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

My understanding is that one of the Saskatchewan stores, in Weyburn, has been certified -- a few months ago, I believe.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

In (soon to be announced) related news, the store will be closing (for economic reasons, of course).

Michelle

This is fabulous news.  Unfortunately, I think it also means that it's time to start the death watch for this store. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

On the other hand, certifying WalMart stores across the country could get rid of these monsters, and return business to smaller stores, no?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I doubt it, Boom Boom.

Michelle, that store's been on a death watch for several years now.  I think the Jonquiere store closure brought so much negative press and attention that Wal-Mart is unlikely to do the same thing with St. Hyacinthe.  It wouldn't be in Wal-Mart's self-interest to do so, not at this point. 

Michelle

It's funny, part of me wants the store to stay open and be forced to have a union on site and to save the jobs of the people there, but another part of me thinks, well, if it shuts down, then I guess that's one way to get rid of the big blue monster.

Anyhow, I guess I hope they stay open so that they are forced to have a unionized workforce, and so that other Walmart workers take heart and try to get their workplaces unionized too.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I haven't read the Quebec quasi-judicial (labour) board materials in much detail but it seems to me that if Wal-Mart is allowed to, say, close this store in the same spurious way that it did the one in Jonquiere, then Quebec labour law will have been made a mockery of. It's a direct confrontation, of course, between private property rights and human rights and one would expect the state to favour the former over the latter. But this is an "independent" branch of Government, right?

Anyway, I can't help but think that the consequences for Wal-Mart may be disastrous, in a business sense, if, at the end of the day, they try the same haughty approach again. Some possibilities: keep organizing and put them out of business in Canada; a boycott campaign; changes to labour law prohibiting such actions; an industry-wide agreement with Wal-Mart and all their competitors; and so on. The union and labour bodies must have put some thought into this as well, even if they're not saying anything right now.

 

Unionist

I hope everyone remembers that the [url=Jonquière">http://www.ufcw.ca/Default.aspx?SectionId=37b8c54f-c1a1-42f2-8ead-1f5acb... closing[/url] is currently being appealed to the [url=Supreme">http://www.scc-csc.gc.ca/information/cms-sgd/dock-regi-eng.asp?32527][co... Court of Canada[/url]. There are several intervenors, including the [url=http://ccla.org/?p=1521]Canadian Civil Liberties Association[/url].

 

Unionist

Another victory - breaking news - remember that Jonquière was the first Wal-Mart to be unionized in North America:

[url=Arbitrator">http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/saguenay-lac/2009/09/22/003-wal-mart-... rules Jonquière Wal-Mart illegally fired 190 workers in 2005[/url]

[My translation]:

Quote:

A labour arbitrator has ruled that the dismissal of 190 employees of the Jonquière Wal-Mart store in May 2005 was unlawful. The store closed barely nine months later, after the employees had won their union certification, and before the signing of a first collective agreement.

Wal-Mart will seek judicial review, of course, but that's much more difficult than a normal appeal. If the ruling stands, Wal-Mart will have to compensate all the workers for their lost earnings (minus whatever they earned elsewhere in the interim).

The battle continues as reported earlier to have the closure itself declared unlawful.

 

 

Michelle

What happens if it's declared unlawful?  Does that mean the Walmart has to open up again?  (Eek!)

janfromthebruce

yes Michelle - shop till you drop - to stim the economy with cheap goods made by cheap labour in China. Capitalism makes the world spin and go bubble and burst, bubble and burst.

Wilf Day

Timebandit wrote:
My understanding is that one of the Saskatchewan stores, in Weyburn, has been certified -- a few months ago, I believe.

Let me know when employees in a Wal-Mart store in China get a union.

Quote:
Even China is running out of cheap labour. Beijing's No. 1 Cloisonné factory used to have 700 employees, who lived in the company-owned housing all around it. Now it has fewer than 100, and the housing is converted to condos. The price of the skilled hand-craft work is too high for most buyers to pay. The number one job choice for graduates is a railway job, paying 10,000 Yuan a month. Next is a bank job, then an electric company job, then a public servant, then a doctor, then a teacher. The average wage in Jinan is 6,000 Yuan a month. Wal-Mart pays only 700-Yuan a month, minimum wage, in China as everywhere else.

triciamarie

So because this employer is brutally anti-worker, in Canada as all other countries, its Canadian workers should lie down and accept illegal union-busting?

How will that help -- here or anywhere else?

madmax

I never shop in Walmart. Never Will.

triciamarie

Me either, and that would still be the case if working there was the best job I could get.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I wonder what percentage of our population is aware of WalMart's anti-union and minimum wage practices. When I go to the nearest city, I always see the WalMart parking lot full of vehicles - hundreds of them.

Doug

Wilf Day wrote:

Let me know when employees in a Wal-Mart store in China get a union.

 

Wal-Mart stores in China are unionized - though this isn't by choice and the union isn't independent.

triciamarie

!!!!!

But -- from your Forbes article link:

Quote:
 Multinationals such as Motorola, McDonald's and Wal-Mart rival Carrefour all recognize the union, to which they are required by law to pay the equivalent of 2% of payroll to support its activities.

But, apart from the subsidy, there is not much for management not to like. The union does not resemble its counterparts in the West, and labor activists often accuse it of siding with management rather than workers. 

On its Web site, the ACFTU says, "Trade unions of the foreign-invested enterprises in China have firmly centered on production and business operation to conduct activities and have given support to enterprises in their operation and management according to law; have educated workers to observe factory rules and regulations and discipline; organized workers to launch labor emulation campaigns; and aroused the enthusiasm of the workers for running the enterprises well, so as to contribute to the sound development of the enterprises."

Sam Walton will not be turning in his grave.