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Latest News - January 2013

January 3, 2013
UFCW plans appeal in Weyburn Wal-Mart case
Source: Leader-Post
By: Will Chabun

After getting bad legal news on New Year's Eve, the union seeking to represent workers at Wal-Mart's Weyburn store hopes to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union has applied for a stay of a decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal while it seeks leave, or permission, to present its case to the Supreme Court, said Norm Neault, president of its Local 1400, which wants to represent the workers.

Monday's Court of Appeal decision restored an earlier Labour Relations Board ruling that the board should count the votes of employees to determine if the union might be decertified as bargaining agent for staff in the Weyburn store.

But Neault said the UFCW feels employees should have had the right to negotiate a first contract, look at it - and only then "make an informed decision" on whether they want to stay in the union.

He said Monday's ruling was an "absolute blow" in allowing the provincial Labour Relations Board to "make decisions willy-nilly and not follow the previous lines".

This legal dispute goes back to 2004, when the UFCW first asked the board to certify it represented employees in the Weyburn store.

This application was granted in 2008, but overturned in Court of Queen's Bench the following year.

In 2010, the Court of Appeal upheld the certification. The board took up the matter and eventually decided to consolidate three union applications alleging unfair labour practices by Wal-Mart, plus an application by employee Gordon Button seeking an order decertifying the union local as bargaining agent for the employees.

The board also ordered that the Weyburn employees should vote on whether they still wanted to be part of the union - though it added the ballots should not be counted while the hearing and subsequent legal appeals were taking place.

After the board dismissed all of the union's unfair labour practice applications and allowed the decertification application to proceed, the union sought to quash the board decision in Court of Queen's Bench, which responded with a split decision.

It directed the board to rehear certain applications including that of the employee, but did not accept all of the union's arguments. The union took this to the Court of Appeal, while Wal-Mart "cross-appealed", seeking to restore the board's original decision.

That set the stage for Monday's ruling, in which the Court of Appeal commented that "no labour relations negotiations have been more intensely litigated in recent years in this province than those involving Wal-Mart Canada Corp., the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the employees at the Weyburn Wal-Mart store."

 

 


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