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Re: [Border01] 8/7 Manitoba Canada: Migrant farm workers vote to leave UFW union

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  • dean tuckerman
    The Headline is bad. The workers have voted to leave the UFCW, the Untied Food and Commercial Workers, a fairly conservative union of mainly grocery store
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 18 9:23 AM
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      The Headline is bad. The workers have voted to leave the UFCW, the Untied Food and Commercial Workers, a fairly conservative union of mainly grocery store workers and meatpackers, not the UFW, the Untied Farm Workers, a union of farm workers, mainly in California founded by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
      On Aug 18, 2009, at 2:29 AM, SIUHIN@... wrote:

       

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      Manitoba migrant farm workers vote to leave union

      By Aldo Santin, Canwest News Service
      August 7, 2009
      Winnipeg Free Press
       

      WINNIPEG - Two years after a group of migrant farmers set a national precedent by joining a union, they've voted to de-certify.

      The Manitoba Labour Board recently revoked Local 832 United Food and Commercial Workers union's right to be the bargaining representative for Mexican workers at Mayfair Farm in Portage la Prairie, Man.

      The labour board ruling followed a unanimous vote against union membership by 26 migrant Mexican workers in June.

      ``We're very happy about this,'' Heladio Martinez Perez, a migrant worker, said about the decertification.

      It was June 2007 when the labour board upheld a vote to join the union, taken the previous fall, by most of the workers at the vegetable and fruit farm in Portage, which is about 80 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

      The ruling was applauded by the labour movement, but it shocked the farming community. Mayfair Farm had opposed the certification on the grounds that the workers were not Canadian citizens and not entitled to union membership. Later, the Quebec Labour Board certified migrant workers at three farms in that province.

      More than 18,000 workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries are brought to Canada annually to help plant and harvest crops. About 1,000 migrants work in Manitoba. Working conditions have traditionally been set by the Mexican and Canadian governments.

      The Mayfair Farm decertification vote wasn't unexpected. Shortly after the historic labour board ruling, most of the workers signed a petition asking for the certification to be overturned on the grounds they didn't understand what they had signed. The board ruled that any decertification vote could only take place one year after a contract had been in place.

      A year ago, the union and Mayfair Farm signed a three-year collective agreement, giving the migrant workers annual wage increases tied to the provincial minimum wage, overtime rates, seniority rights and a grievance procedure.

      Perez, 42, said despite the benefits from the collective agreement, the workers still wanted to decertify.

      The new contract gave the workers 15 cents more an hour over the minimum wage and called for a 25-cent top-up in 2010.

      ``We were making only 15 cents more an hour, and we had to pay the union $4 a week in union dues,'' Perez said.

      Perez has been coming to Canada as a migrant farm worker for 18 years, the last 16 at the vegetable and fruit farm in Portage la Prairie.

      He said the workers were disenchanted with the overtime provisions. It meant they earned an additional $1 hour for working more than the regular 70-hour work week, Perez said, but no one earned overtime because the employer capped their work week at 70 hours to avoid the overtime payments.

      ``The overtime was very important to us,'' Perez said. ``Now, without the union, we can work longer hours, and we even get a bonus sometimes.''


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