Monday, July 2, 2007

Manitoba decision certifies migrant farm workers union

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 | 5:46 PM CT
CBC News

A group of migrant farm workers in Portage la Prairie, Man., has
become unionized following a Manitoba Labour Board decision
released Tuesday.

The certification means that dozens of workers at Mayfair Farms,
a fruit and vegetable farm, are the first unionized group of foreign
farm workers in Canada.

The United Food and Commercial Workers applied for certification
at Mayfair Farms in September 2006.

The union said it had signed up more than 65 per cent of the 59
workers, which under Manitoba law entitles the group to automatic
union certification.

The company argued the workers were not legally employees
under the Labour Relations Act, so collective bargaining rights
would not apply to them.

In October, 43 of the workers signed statements saying they
were misled by the union and did not want to join.

In its decision, the Labour Relations Board said their objections
were "untimely" and "did not allege misconduct," so they had no
further standing at the hearing.

The five-page decision says the board determined the act did
apply to the workers and Mayfair Farms was their employer.

UFCW officials said Tuesday the union will now begin bargaining
for a collective agreement for the workers, most of whom are from

About 18,000 foreign agricultural workers come to Canada every
year under the federal Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.
About 1,000 work in Manitoba.