Canada Cartage workers in Oshawa have ratified a first collective agreement by 91 per cent, after joining the union in March. The new contract, governing the workplace for 98 members, was a major victory after the workers had faced major challenges in unionizing since the campaign began in November 2015.
During the unionization process, workers involved in the inside organizing committee were also followed and subject to intimidation, but they were not deterred.
After a number of delays and complications resulting from the employer’s attempts to block the union, the Ontario Labour Board issued an interim certification in March 2017, allowing the workers to join Unifor Local 222 and for collective bargaining to begin.
“It took us nearly two years to get to this stage, but we were able to make some changes that will improve people’s lives,” said bargaining committee member Dennis Wood. “Workers were being bullied by management and now that can’t happen. Now there are rules that need to be followed. We have a strong base for the future.” Wood said that he and other new members were impressed by the level of support they received from the local and national union through-out the process.
The first agreement includes significant improvements in wages, benefits, vacation, RRSP contributions and strong collective agreement language. Negotiations took place over the summer and fall. Prior to beginning bargaining, the two new bargaining committee members attended a three-day collective bargaining course with Unifor.
“This group of workers never wavered in their determination,” said Organizer Danny McBride. “Through hard work and solidarity, this group of drivers and related employees have put in place a strong collective agreement that addresses their core issues and gives them the voice in their workplace that they need and deserve.”
Local Union Organizer Joel Smith emphasized that the entire process was a team effort, drawing on many different resources and people from the local and national union.
Members at Canada Cartage, a shipping and logistics company, work as drivers, dock workers, facilities maintenance at the Oshawa terminal. The new agreement will also cover shunters and shunter lead hands performing work at the Whitby LCBO terminal, a group which had been previously disputed by the employer and was won in collective bargaining.