Canada's Toyota workers poised to vote on joining union

Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:34pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Susan Taylor and Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Workers at Toyota Motor Corp's (7203.T: Quote) Canadian plants are set to vote next week on whether to become the first at wholly owned Toyota facilities in North America to unionize, a push Canada's biggest private-sector union is confident will succeed.

A "yes" vote would mark a major victory for the union, Unifor, which has more than 300,000 members, including more than 39,000 in the auto industry, even though previous attempts to organize Toyota's Canadian plants failed.

"There's no question, there will be a lot of eyes on this drive," Unifor President Jerry Dias said at a press conference on Monday, where he was flanked by Toyota employees who said they wanted a bigger say in their workplace.

Unifor, which filed for union certification at Toyota with the Ontario labor board on Monday, said it did not want to say exactly how many workers have signed union cards, citing strategy. It said, however, that of the 6,500 workers at the three Toyota assembly plants in Ontario, well over the 40 percent needed for a vote to be held have signed cards.

The results of the vote, which is expected to start on Monday, will not be known until later in April, the union said. More than 50 percent of workers would have to vote "yes" for a union to be formed.

Toyota Motor Co of Canada, which has two plants in Cambridge, Ontario, and one plant in Woodstock, Ontario, said that its workers already "have a package that's at, or near, the top of the industry" and that it was uncertain what more a union could offer.

"We don't know what they're going to be able to negotiate or, frankly, what they're going negotiate away," said spokesman Greig Mordue. "What Unifor can offer is, frankly, a mystery."

He added that Toyota Canada, which began assembling vehicles in Ontario in 1988, has never laid off a permanent employee.   Continued...

Representatives from Unifor stand outside the Toyota plant in Cambridge, March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch