Unifor temporarily withdraws push to represent Amazon workers in B.C.

Union says employer reported 'suspiciously high number' of employees

Unifor temporarily withdraws push to represent Amazon workers in B.C.

Unionization efforts at two Amazon fulfilment centres in Metro Vancouver will have to wait as Unifor has temporarily withdrawn its application with the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB).

This move comes as Amazon provided a “suspiciously high number” of employees,” according to the union.

Last week, Unifor announced that it had filed two applications with the B.C. Labour Relations Board to represent workers at fulfilment centres in New Westminster and Delta.

The union’s submission to the B.C. Labour Relations Code Review calls for expanded protections for gig workers, broad-based collective bargaining, and disclosure of employee lists to unions.

Unifor will continue unionization at Amazon

Despite the initial setback, Unifor vowed to continue with its unionization effort at the two Amazon fulfilment centres in B.C.

“Make no mistake: workers at Amazon in Metro Vancouver are closer than ever to successfully forming a union,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western regional director. “The number of workers provided by Amazon is suspiciously high, but with this information we know precisely what our next steps are to help these workers form their union.”

The union claimed that it applied to the BCLRB on April 10 to certify the unit after hundreds of workers at the two facilities signed confidential union cards. Unifor’s awareness campaign at Amazon facilities began on June 21, 2023. Card-signing began on Oct. 19, 2023.

In October 2023, Unifor started bargaining on behalf of over 2,800 grocery workers at Loblaws-owned stores in Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario.

Unifor calls for changes in B.C. Labour Relations Code

Under B.C. law, if the signed cards represent more than 55% of the eligible workforce at a facility, union certification is granted, said a report on CTV News.

If the cards represent at least 45 per cent, a vote may be called instead. However, because B.C. law doesn’t compel employers to provide any information about the number of workers onsite during a union drive, unions are left to guess the threshold of signed cards they ought to meet before applying to the BCLRB for certification, according to Unifor.

The union Unifor has repeatedly called for changes to the B.C. Labour Relations Code to improve employer transparency during the unionization process, including in its recent submission to the labour code review.

“When working people are up against giant, well-funded multinational employers, we need more tools to help level the playing field,” said McGarrigle. “Transparency is not too much to ask. The B.C. government should close this loophole as soon as possible.”

In 2022, a labour union in Quebec accused Amazon of interfering with workers' attempts to unionize.

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