Associates at the Weyburn Wal-Mart won an important battle, after their decertification votes were counted on Friday afternoon. Out of 69 eligible associates, 51 votes were in favor of being decertified from the United Food and Commercial Workers’ union; five wanted the union to stay and 13 didn’t vote.
“Our associates in Weyburn have spoke, and we respect their decision,” said Andrew Pelletier, vice-president of corporate affairs and sustainability for Wal-Mart Canada. “We are pleased their voices have finally been heard because they have waited more than two-and-a-half years for their votes to be counted.”
“We will continue to focus on being a great place to work and on continuous improvement,” said Pelletier.
Back in January, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled that a union decertification vote, taken by the Weyburn Wal-Mart should be counted. But then the UFCW were granted a stay of judgement, and the decertification votes remained sealed until the court proceedings were concluded by the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada announced it would not hear the UFCW’s appeal of decisions by the Saskatchewan Labour Board on the union’s accusations of unfair labour practices against Wal-Mart Canada.
The decision by the Supreme Court of Canada will mean an application to decertify the union will proceed.
“A panel of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board will now be meeting on Wednesday to decide if the vote is binding, and then discussing the decertification process,” said Fred Bayer, registrar of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.
The decision by the Court of Appeal restored an earlier Labour Relations Board ruling that the board should count the votes of employees to determine if the union might be decertified as bargaining agent for staff in the Weyburn store.
According to the stay of judgement made by the Court of Appeal, the applicant union claimed that the rescission vote is tainted.
The union submitted that its reputation and the confidence of its membership in it, as a collective bargaining representative, are at risk if the vote is counted before the case is heard before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Wal-Mart, in response, stated that the potential harm identified by the union was speculative and not presumptively irreparable. Also, Wal-Mart stated that their associates want the rescission vote counted for reasons of certainty of their position.
A series of unfair labour applications were brought to the Court of Appeals by the UFCW.
The matters they addressed recently were: unlawful communications to employees, failure to bargain collectively, failure to provide employee information, failure to abide by closed shop obligations and failure to bargain collectively.
The UFCW alleged that Wal-Mart had unfair communications to employees from the period following certification on Dec. 4, 2008 until the date of their allegation, Nov. 8, 2010.
The Labour Board reviewed those communications and found that they were “responsive to significant developments affecting in the workplace that were factual.” The Court of Appeal found those findings to be reasonable and dismissed the union’s appeal for the unfair communications.
The Labour Board has also dismissed allegations of unlawful communications to employees that pre-dated the 2008 certification order. The UFCW had appealed this and Wal-Mart had cross-appealed.
In the view of the Court of Appeal, the Labour Board provided distinct reasons for dismissing the allegation, and Wal-Mart’s appeal was allowed.
Appeals by Wal-Mart to the failure to bargain collectively, the failure to provide employee information, the failure to abide by closed shop obligations and the failure to bargain collectively, were also allowed by the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal also reviewed an application to rescind the UFCW’s certification. The union alleged that the application submitted by Gordon Button was “assisted by senior employees who were closely tied to management.”
The Labour Board rejected those arguments, after finding Button to be an “assertive, confident and honest individual.”
The Court of Appeal stated that the Labour Board’s decision on the application was reasonable, and that the employees’ votes must be counted.
The court battle between Wal-Mart and the UFCW has been a lengthy one. In fact, in the document released by the Court of Appeal, their introduction stated, “no labour relations negotiations have been more intensely litigated in recent years in this province.”
The UFCW had first applied for certification in 2004, but was unsuccessful. For the past eight years the union has been involved in a lengthy court battle regarding the Weyburn Wal-Mart. A certification was issued by the Saskatchewan Labour Board in December 2008, with the UFCW given the right to represent the workers in 2010.
There are about 120 people currently working for the Weyburn Wal-Mart. Currently, there are no other unionized Wal-Mart stores in Canada.