Home Workplace News Unifor pauses efforts to unionize Amazon workers in Vancouver, cites ‘suspiciously high’ data on number of employees

Unifor pauses efforts to unionize Amazon workers in Vancouver, cites ‘suspiciously high’ data on number of employees

by HR Law Canada

Unifor has paused its efforts to unionize workers at two Amazon fulfilment centres in Metro Vancouver, citing discrepancies in the number of reported employees.

The applications to the British Columbia Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) were temporarily withdrawn due to what Unifor deems an unexpectedly high count of employees provided by Amazon.

“Make no mistake: workers at Amazon in Metro Vancouver are closer than ever to successfully forming a union,” Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor’s Western Regional Director, stated. He expressed concerns over the employee numbers reported by Amazon, which he described as “suspiciously high.” This information, however, has clarified the union’s subsequent strategies to assist workers in their organization efforts.

British Columbia’s legislation does not require employers to disclose employee numbers during a union drive. This lack of transparency forces unions to estimate the necessary number of signed cards before seeking certification from the BCLRB.

McGarrigle emphasized the union’s resolve, stating, “We’re not going anywhere. Unifor is committed to the hundreds of workers at Amazon who have signed a confidential union card and will re-double our efforts in the coming weeks.”

Unifor has been vocal in its calls for amendments to the B.C. Labour Relations Code to enhance employer transparency during the unionization process. The union recently submitted proposals aimed at revising the labour code.

“When working people are up against giant, well-funded multinational employers, we need more tools to help level the playing field,” McGarrigle argued. He advocated for the B.C. government to eliminate current transparency loopholes promptly.

The union’s drive to organize Amazon workers began with a card-signing initiative on October 19, 2023, following an awareness campaign that started on June 21, 2023. This move came after hundreds of workers at the two sites signed confidential union cards, leading to an application for certification filed on April 10.

The unionization of Amazon workers in Canada follows a precedent set in April 2022, when workers at the “JFK8” distribution centre in Staten Island, New York, successfully formed a union. This event marked a significant development in labour movements within Amazon’s operations.

Representing 315,000 workers across various sectors of the economy, Unifor continues to advocate for the rights and fair treatment of all working people in Canada and globally.

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