Maple Leaf Poultry Employees Switch Unions
Frustration over lack of representation, concerns not being addressed leads to vote
Edmonton—Employees of Maple Leaf Foods Inc.’s poultry plant in Edmonton voted strongly in favour of switching unions from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union to Logistics, Manufacturing, and Allied Trades Union, CLAC Local 56.
Local 56 filed an application for certification with the Alberta Labour Relations Board on June 5, 2017. The board conducted a secret-ballot vote on June 23, 2017, after it determined that CLAC had obtained the minimum threshold of 40 percent support needed to trigger a vote. Seventy-four percent of the 392 employees who were eligible to vote did so, with 73 percent voting in favour of CLAC as their union.
“The employees were seeking a change in union representation, and they were very motivated,” says Melanie St. Andrews, CLAC representative. “They wanted better representation. We will be responsive to their concerns and will strive to create a positive environment at the plant.”
Maple Leaf Poultry employees approached CLAC representatives in May after over 15 years of UFCW representation. The organizing effort quickly gained traction, with hundreds of employees signing CLAC petition cards.
“The high turnout and vote for CLAC is a clear indication that a strong majority of Maple Leaf employees supported a change in representation,” says St. Andrews. “We will work with all employees, including those who did not vote for us, to address their concerns and help them build a better work-life.”
Negotiations with Maple Leaf management for a renewed collective agreement will begin shortly. The current agreement expires August 2, 2017.