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Migrant agricultural workers ratify contract


June 24, 2008
By Marg Land


Topics

June 24, 2008, Toronto, Ont. –
Workers at Mayfair Farms, a fruit and vegetable operation in Portage la
Prairie, Man., recently ratified the first-ever contract to cover
migrant agriculture workers employed seasonally at a farm operation in
Canada.

June 24, 2008, Toronto, Ont. – Workers at Mayfair Farms, a fruit and vegetable operation in Portage la Prairie, Man., recently ratified the first-ever contract to cover migrant agriculture workers employed seasonally at a farm operation in Canada.

The members voted 93 per cent to ratify a three-year contract that covers them and all other agriculture workers hired by Mayfair during the life of the contract.

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Described by officials with the United Food and Commercial Workers union as a “breakthrough,” the ratification means the migrant agricultural workers have a grievance procedure, a right to be recalled each season based on seniority, as well as other contract language to protect them from being ejected from employer-provided lodgings, or expelled from Canada until their case is heard by an independent arbitrator.

The Mayfair Farms workers are represented by UFCW Canada Local 832, which originally applied to represent the unit in September 2006. Legal challenges by the employer followed but the unit was certified in June 2007.

In Quebec, three other bargaining units comprising migrant agriculture workers are in various stages of the process leading to a first contract. In Ontario, a decision is expected soon on a UFCW Canada constitutional challenge of Ontario’s ban on agriculture workers forming unions for the purpose of collective bargaining.