HOT OFF MY USER GROUP!
Union certified at McDonald's in Squamish
The Vancouver Sun
Petti Fong, Vancouver Sun
A McDonald's restaurant in Squamish became the company's first unionized operation in North America Wednesday when the franchise owner and Canada's largest union signed a certification agreement.
At a news conference Wednesday, Roger Crowther of the Canadian Auto
Workers called it a "historic day for the labour movement in Canada."
Paul Savage, owner of the McDonald's franchise in Squamish, did not attend the news conference. Neither he nor his lawyer Alan Hamilton was available for comment after the agreement was signed.
In a statement issued to employees, however, Savage said it is not his
intention to close the business.
"As you know, it is the customers who determine the viability of this
restaurant and therefore the security of our livelihood," he said.
A Labour Relations Board hearing on the issue was expected to take five
days, but Crowther said both sides were able to agree the union had the
requisite numbers. Savage originally challenged the CAW's claim that it
had signed up the 55 per cent of his employees required for certification.
The union has now agreed to drop an unfair labour hearing into Savage's
While other unions have tried to certify McDonald's workers, none has
been successful until now. In February, the Teamsters were certified to
represent 62 employees at a Quebec franchise, but the owner shut
down the outlet two weeks before the certification was complete.
An accreditation hearing into a certification attempt by Teamsters at
another McDonald's in Montreal will be heard Sept. 22.
The CAW now represents the largest number of service sector workers in
Canada, with 20,000, including Starbucks and KFC employees in B.C.
Nationally, CAW has increased its membership from 120,000 in 1985 to
The organizers of the drive to organize the McDonald's franchise,
Jennifer Wiebe, 16, and Tessa Lowinger, 17, said they hope other
employees at low-wage restaurants will gain confidence from their
The pair, who earn between $7.26 and $7.46 an hour, said the push to
unionize was never motivated by higher wages.
"We did this because we felt strongly safety had to be improved. We have been getting lots of respect in the restaurant now," Wiebe said.
Professor Mark Leier, who teaches labour history at Simon Fraser
University, said the certification in an industry notoriously difficult
to organize is significant.
"It's a sign of a labour force that is revitalizing itself -- looking to organize in ways it hasn't tried since the 1940s."
Wednesday's decision is akin to the first labour agreements reached by
sawmill workers in B.C. in the late 1930s, Leier said, but he has little expectation that it will lead to mass unionizations.
Most workers in the fast food industry are transient, and part-time
employees, like Wiebe and Lowinger, and that creates an advantage for the company, said Leier.
"Many of these drives are not lost in the organizing level, but in the next stage."
McDonald's has about 1,000 restaurants in Canada, employing 70,000
people. Until now, none of its outlets was unionized in North America,
although organized labour has had some success in Europe.