McDonald's certifies

By David J Knowles

VANCOUVER, B.C. Wednesday August 19th

Following two days of hearings at the provincial Labour Relations Board, both the squeamish McDonalds franchise owner, Paul Savage, and union representatives from the Canadian AutoWorkers' Union (CAW) agreed to drop their respective challenges to the certification process. The workplace is now certified, and the franchise becomes the first unionised McDonald's in North America.

CAW had claimed Savage had stacked the votes by hiring an additional 28 workers between a union membership sign-up and a vote. The employers (Savage and McD's) had claimed the 28 should have been allowed to vote, but on Tuesday McD's lawyer, Mike Coudy, told the LRB that they would be withdrawing their application to include the 28 in a new vote.

The ballot box had been sealed on LRB instructions pending the outcome of the hearings, which began on Monday and were expected to last at least 5 days.

A lawyer acting for a group of employees who had allegedly changed their minds after signing up for to join CAW, and now wished to withdraw their membership. There was doubt as to whether this group, who claimed they were covered by the Infant Act and were therefore inelligible for union membership, were acting independently. The lawyer concerned, Randy Kaardal, normally charges around CDN$260 per hour for his work, whilst the group he represents earns between CDN$7.15 and $9 per hour.

In a surprise move Wednesday, both sides announced they had withdrawn their claims to the LRB. Following the move, the ballot box was unsealed and the vote counted. This was found to be more than the 55% needed by provincial labour law in favour of certification.

CAW and the employers will now begin negotiations for a first contract.

CAW already have sucessfully certified in 11 Starbucks and 40 KFC's in British Columbia.

Meanwhile, the Quebec Labour Board is conducting a hearing into whether a Montreal-area McDonald's, located in a WalMart store, can certify.

A campaign to unionise every McDonald's in the province has been launched by the Teamsters' Union's Canadian branch. The campaign was launched after a McDonald's in St Hyacinth, Quebec, was closed following a sucessful sign-up and is being led by one of the St. Hyacinth franchise's ex-workers.

McLibel Statement of Support
From: The McLibel Support Campaign, London UK.
Subject: A call for all McDonald's workers at stores throughout North America and the world to organise themselves to fight for their rights.

There are over a million and half people working at McDonald's sotores around the world - most are under 21 years old. Pay is low, the work is hard, conditions are generally poor, management are authoritarian, and workers have few rights.

Unions have so far been successful to some extent (now or in the past) in some stores in Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, France, Ireland (briefly), Germany and some other places. The more organised and coordinated the workers are, the less McDonald's can do to stop union activity and the improvement of pay and conditions.

All the information that we have is available on the McSpotlight website, including the following:

(a) The Defence witness statements on Employment, which set out the experiences of all the people who gave evidence in the trial for Helen & Dave in this area - 30 ex-employees and trade unionists from around the world.

(b) The booklet "Working For Big Mac" produced by the Transnationals Information Centre in the UK in 1987.

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