witness statement

name: Sarah Inglis
section: Employment
for: The Defence
experience: Employee, Union organiser, Canada, from 1992


The witness relates cases of unjust firing, threats of firings, work hours cut, cheaper staff being hired, verbal and sexual harassment. The workers of McDonald's Orangeville had lost all job respect, dignity and security. People were afraid to come into work because they feared Rob Pinkey, a store manager. OVER HALF THE WORKERS JOINED A UNION. McDONALDS PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS TO PREVENT THE UNION GAINING RECOGNITION.


Sarah Inglis worked in the Orangeville McDonald's for almost three years, she was a respected worker and later a Union Organiser. She is currently studying at university.

Full cv: (not available for this witness)

full statement:


My name is Sarah Inglis, I have been working in the Orangeville McDonald's for almost three years. In that time ownership has changed hands once. It was previously owned by Mr John Tingle. In Feb/ March of 1992 Mr Cameron Ballantyne bought the store. The store was running quite well after he bought it, for about six months. After that, it became miserable for everyone!

What Happened

There were unjust firing, threats of firings, work hours were cut, cheaper staff were hired, verbal and sexual harassment. The workers of McDonald's Orangeville had lost all job respect, dignity and security. People were afraid to come into work because they feared Rob Pinkey, a store manager. Whenever a staff member began their shift they would always ask "would kind of mood is Rob in?": Rob's mood would determine the kind of day that you would have at work.

Forming A Union

In August of 1993 I attempted to organize McDonald's into a union with SEIU (Service Empoloyees International Union). We began signing people up on August 25, 1993. In about a month we had signed up a majority of workers. Sixty-seven out of one hundred and two employees wanted a union - before management found out! The union filed for automatic certification on October 1, 1993. After that chaos broke out.

A few days before the notice from the Labour Board was sent to Cam, Nicole Owen, who was originally on our organising committee, told Cam that I and several others were trying to organise. Approximately a week later Nicole received a new position as crew-trainer. This is a higher position than crew but lower than swing management. Employees that have this status receive an extra twenty cents an hour, I believe.

As soon as Cam found out about the union he invited day staff into his office, one by one for a "chat". I suspect that he was trying to win people over on to his side. Also during that time period a McDonald's head office personnel lady, called Marion Drummond, was sent down to make sure that relations between management and crew were calm. This has never happened at McDonald's in the three year period that I have worked there.

The weekend after we had filed, individuals that were staff of McDonald's began telephoning people from McDonald's and telling them that Cam knew who had signed cards and that they had better sign the petition against the union if they wanted to stay loyal to Cam.

On or about Tuesday October 5, 1993 Cam held a crew meeting. These events generally consist of McDonald's business, such as rating the managers on their performance, if all of the equipment if running well and the good and bad points about the store. I arrived about fifteen minutes late to this in which I interrupted them talking about the union. Cam was talking about how the store did not need a union because the staff were given paid breaks, two free uniforms and half price food. He also said that McDonald's had two separate benefit packages, one for full-timers and one for part-timers. One Lady piped up and said "what part-time benefits?". Cam told her to get back to him on that one and they would discuss it in more depth and privacy. He also told crew that they would loose their McGold cards (certain privilege that entitles you to half price food once a day).

Cam kept stating that there was no need for a union and turned to me and asked why I wanted one. I told Cam that we didn't get any respect or have any dignity and job security. His reply to that was "who doesn't give you respect? I told him I wasn't going to share my personal views about the management there in front of 30 or 40 people. He then asked me to meet with him after school. I told him I was busy, he kept badgering me to meet with him until I used his favourite line "Why don't I get back to you on that one, Cam". Cam continued to put down the union, scaring people about the big money-hungry company. Also, many anti-union supporters got a chance to speak, but those who supported the union were too intimidated to speak.

We began the Labour Board hearings on November 1 1993. In that time there were thirty-something witnesses for only Cam Ballantyne's side. Throughout that time the younger crew sat in the crew room, (a place where you have to stay before and during your breaks) saying that they should just make up stories so that they would have to go down to the Labour Board. Cam paid his witnesses 102 dollars a day. The longer story the longer you testified the more you got paid.

At the McDonald's restaurant I was commonly known as the union activist because I spear-headed the organizing drive. During the Labour Board hearings management cut one of my shifts for a few weeks. I believe that this was because management knew I was prounion.


While the hearings were taking place at the Labour Board the management of McDonald's began giving out more free food, Olympic Hats and pins to wear on your uiniform. This much paraphenalia was never given out before. I think that it was used to try and make people believe that there was no need for a union. During this time management became much nicer and calm around the employees. It was a complete change in environment, they treated us like gold. This was another of their mechanisms to make people think a union wasn't needed.

At the McDonald's Annual Christmas party management made a hysterical video of people goofing off at work. This I believe was used as a brainwashing tactic, it brought people together. I think that McDonald's has this ability to psychologically twist your mind and portray that everything at work is beautiful.

The Labour Board asked both sides if we could agree upon a vote because we had been in hearings for over three months and it didn't look as though there was any end in sight. I believe that the hearings took that long because management dragged them out so long to create a hostile atmosphere for the employees of McDonald's Orangeville.

Opressive Management Techniques

So we agreed and drew up a vote contract. In that time swing managers had made up buttons that stated "JUST SAY NO". Employees were allowed to wear these on their uniforms. McDonald's never allows any type of advertising other than McDonald's on our uniforms. Also, 1st assistant managers were giving these buttons out. People told me that they felt that they had to wear them or their life would be a living hell. Some staff of McDonald's were intimidaded into wearing these buttons.

Cam had professional drawings done of himself in a caricature format nicknaming himself "Candid Cam". He was portrayed as a super hero with a cape on. In these drawings he stated that a union would not bring employees job security. He portrayed the union as the "Bad Guy". Also during this time Cam held a crew event, which are pretty regular. Crew events are sponsored by Cam in which almost all staff get together and play activities. At this particular crew event the theme was Olympic Bobsledding. The crew simply was supposed to go tobogganing. Then I believe Cam decided to throw in some creative art in the snow. He had people lie down in the snow in the form of 'NO' and the managers yell out "do we need a union?", the crew obviously was supposed to reply "NO!" If you didn't lie down and scream 'No' you were labelled a union supporter. People thought that if management found out that they supported a union, management would fire them.This was obviously used as an intimidation factor.

The night before the vote management held an anti-union meeting in which all of the crew were invited to. At this meeting Cam and management promised that working conditions would not go back to the way they used to be if the crew voted against the union. The union was holding a meeting after the management was taking place trying to invite people to the union meeting. At first people would stop and talk to me about it but then Cam came and stood almost right beside me. Then the staff would not talk to me at all or even look at me.So I decided to stand outside of the building and talk to people. Cam didn't follow me and so people began to talk to me once again. That example just shows how much management had intimidated the crew. At this crew meeting management also had a slide show with the theme of "Just Say No". Once again it showed people goofing off at work having a great time. This slide show was put to tunes such as "Its a Wonderful World" and "Shiny Happy People".

During the vote on February 24, 1993, representatives for management wrote down the names of poeple that had voted and took the list into the restaurant when someone came to take their place. In this time they would call employees and make sure they had rides to the vote. I believe that they only called anti-union supporters.

Bad Habits Return

One week after the vote one of my union committee people (Courtney Gill) was physically pushed by the manager. I also believe this was done because she too was known as pro-union. Also, after the vote one of my shifts was taken away.

From the examples above I truly believe that McDonald's was truly hostile towards the union and the people that supported it. Now when Cameron comes into work he greets everyone except me.

date signed: not dated
status: Appeared in court
references: Not applicable/ available

exhibits: exhibits available here

transcripts of court appearances:

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