Ontario Workers Overwhelmingly Choose Workers United over UNITE HERE

UNITE HERE fails in effort to block workers' votes from being counted; Ontario Labour Relations Board confirms 90 % of workers at seven diverse workplaces chose Workers United over UNITE HERE in Board Elections

TORONTO, Nov. 12 /CNW/ - The Ontario Labour Relations Board today confirmed that 90 per cent of workers at seven workplaces across Ontario voted to be represented by the Workers United Ontario Council instead of UNITE HERE. Votes were unanimous for Workers United over UNITE HERE at two Compass foodservice workplaces, at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Niagara Falls and Lonix Hats.

Votes, representing almost 1000 workers, have been taking place since September of this year but the counting of ballots was delayed after UNITE HERE filed motions to prevent workers' votes from being counted.

"I don't know how many times and in how many ways we have to tell UNITE HERE we don't want to be part of their union," said Joe Barbisan, a Xerox worker and President of Workers United Local 1414B, a local of the Ontario Council. "Our local and our Council voted in March to leave, we signed petitions and still they tried to raid us, harassing our members and telling our employer not to recognize the union. Then, when we signed cards and voted in an Ontario Labour Relations Board election, they tried every legal trick in the book to prevent our ballots from being counted. Our votes have been counted and our choice for our union is Workers United. We won."

Barbisan's Xerox workplace, which voted on September 3rd, was the first in a string of workplaces represented by Workers United that began signing union cards and filing for OLRB elections after UNITE HERE refused to recognize their democratic choice. The Workers United Ontario Council voted to end their affiliation with UNITE HERE in March 2009, signing an agreement with UNITE HERE to split the union in Ontario. In a direct violation of that agreement, UNITE HERE began a raid against Workers United, trying to take the union's bargaining rights from the members who voted to leave.

"It is pathetic that UNITE HERE has wasted the hard earned dues of union members fighting to strip other union members of their chosen union representation," said Alex Dagg, Director of the Workers United Ontario Council. "Today's vote results should tell them to drop these ridiculous raids, recognize the democratic choice of our members and let both unions get back to the important job of representing workers in these difficult economic times."

Votes were counted today for seven separate workplaces from a diverse group of industries including two Xerox locations, two Compass foodservice workplaces, apparel manufacturer Lonix Hats, plastics manufacturer Amhil Enterprises and the Comfort Inn Hotel in Niagara Falls. Ballots are scheduled to be counted for Toronto apparel workers at Bernard Athletics and T. Lipson tomorrow.

Workers United, an affiliate of SEIU, is a union of 150,000 workers in Canada and the US who work in the laundry, food service, hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile, manufacturing and distribution industries and includes members from predecessor unions like the ILGWU, ACTWU, UNITE and UNITE HERE.


For further information: For further information: contact Wynne Hartviksen at (416) 473-2632

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