Victory at Rossdown Farms!
Despite a strong anti-union campaign waged by the employer, about 226 workers at Rossdown Farms and Natural Foods voted to join UFCW 1518 yesterday. Rossdown is an integrated poultry farmer and processor located in Abbotsford, BC.
“It’s a great victory for these workers,” said union representative Ravi Dhindsa. “They know the poultry industry in British Columbia is largely unionized, and they know that their wages in a non-union shop were well below the industry standard. Now, with a union standing behind them, they can fight for fairer compensation and a better workplace.”
President Ivan Limpright welcomed UFCW 1518’s newest members: “It’s an honour to be able to help our Rossdown members get the respect they deserve. Together, we are stronger and raise our collective voice louder in our common fight for fairness.”
According to Dhindsa, respect was at the heart of the organizing drive. “There was a lot of favouritism, which resulted in some workers getting higher wages and more vacation. This fundamental lack of fairness, coupled with management’s flagrant disrespect for the workers, pushed them to unionize.”
Workers voted to accept UFCW 1518 as their bargaining agent despite Rossdown’s strident anti-union campaign. “They used intimidation to try to scare their workers away from the union,” Dhindsa said. “They threatened closure. They said breaks would be shortened. They said UFCW 1518 would not be able to make any positive changes.”
Thanks to a solid inside committee, union organizers were able to reach out to members and educate them on the benefits of unionization. Days before the vote, UFCW 1518 held a rally outside of the Rossdown poultry processing plant. “We made certain to have signs in Punjabi, as 80 percent of the workers are Punjabi,” said Dhindsa. He added: “As soon as we get the formal certification from the Labour Relations Board, we’ll notify the employer that we want to begin bargaining right away. We are ready to negotiate a strong first collective agreement with the improvements that our members deserve.”