UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

May 22, 2012 13:00 ET

Court to Convene on Doorstep of Vancouver's Mexico Consulate

May 23 Community Trial to Protest Alleged Blacklisting of Mexican Migrant Workers in B.C.

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - May 22, 2012) -

Attention: Vancouver News and Assignment Editors for Wednesday, May 23 at 12:00 Noon:

Vancouver's Mexico consulate will be the venue for a May 23 street theatre community trial to weigh the allegations that Mexico along with its Vancouver consulate colluded with some B.C. agriculture operations to blacklist Mexican migrant workers suspected of being union sympathizers.

Acting for the blacklisted workers as their plaintiff advocate will be Raj Chouhan, NDP MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds. Mr. Dee Plomat will present the perspective of the Mexico Consulate. Helping to guide the deliberations will be a panel of two community judges: Joey Hartman, President of the Vancouver and Labour District Council, and Geoff Meggs, Vancouver City Councillor. At the hearing's conclusion, members of the community will vote and issue their verdict.

The community trial comes in the wake of union-busting charges filed with the B.C. Labour Relations Board (BCLRB) by UFCW Canada Local 1518; the union that represents workers at two B.C. agriculture operations whose testimony to the BCLRB earlier this year alleged they were blacklisted; charges backed up by leaked documents allegedly from Mexico's Vancouver consulate. Mexico has claimed sovereign immunity, so the BCLRB hearings have been temporarily suspended until after May 28, when the B.C. Supreme Court commences hearings regarding the immunity issue.

Attention: Vancouver News and Assignment Editors for Wednesday, May 23 at 12:00 Noon:

WHAT:

Community Trial on the Blacklisting of Mexican Migrant Agriculture Workers

WHEN:

May 23, 2012 @ 12:00 Noon

WHERE:

Consulate General of Mexico - Vancouver

1177 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC

WHO:

UFCW Canada Local 1518 and the Agriculture Workers Alliance

Joey Hartman, President of the Vancouver and Labour District Council

Geoff Meggs, Vancouver City Councillor

CONTACT:

Hanane Benzidane, Representative

UFCW Canada Local 1518

HBenzidane@ufcw1518.com

(604) 612-9305

Lucy Luna, Representative

Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA)

abbotsford@awa-ata.ca

Cell: 604-855-6323

Office: 604-859-5044

BACKGROUND:

The union-busting charges were filed with the BCLRB by UFCW Canada Local 1518, which represents migrant agricultural workers at Sidhu and Sons Nursery Limited, and at Floralia Plant Growers Limited in the Lower Mainland. (see www.ufcw.ca/stoptheblacklist).

Collective bargaining agreements with Local 1518 are in place at both locations, after a majority of workers at Sidhu and Floralia voted to unionize. The migrant workers come to Canada each season under the Canadian Seasonal Agriculture Workers Program (CSAWP) - a bilateral agreement administered by the federal government to which Mexico is a signatory.

Along with worker testimony in front of the BCLRB earlier this year, evidence was also entered, allegedly leaked from the Mexican consulate in Vancouver that indicated blacklisting activities. Workers also told the BCLRB that they had been warned by the Vancouver Mexico consulate to stop visiting support centres for farm workers run by the union in the Lower Mainland.

UFCW Canada Local 1518 is part of UFCW Canada, the country's largest private-sector union with more than 250,000 members primarily working in the food production and retail sectors. For more than two decades UFCW Canada has been a leading advocate for the labour and workplace rights of both domestic and migrant agriculture workers. In association with Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada operates ten agriculture workers support centres across Canada, including AWA centres in Surrey, Abbotsford and Kelowna, B.C.

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