Fort Frances-area Gingrich Woodcraft cites faith for closure after workers vote to join union

A furniture manufacturer in Devlin, near Fort Frances, Ont., has closed its doors for what it calls religious reasons after workers voted in favour of joining a union, but the union is fighting back.

'We are required by scripture to "live peaceably with all men,"' company says as union files complaint

Leon Gingrich, president of furniture manufacturer Gingrich Woodcraft, is facing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. (Vimeo/Woodworking Network)

A furniture manufacturer in Devlin, near Fort Frances, Ont., has closed its doors for what it calls religious reasons after workers voted in favour of joining a union. 

Gingrich Woodcraft said in a statement that, as Christian business owners, their personal beliefs do not allow them freedom to work with a labour union.

The company stated, "We are required by scripture to 'live peaceably with all men,' and not to use force to gain what we want or for what is required to succeed."

Earlier this month, 25 workers at the plant voted 69 per cent in favour of joining Unifor, the largest private-sector union in the country.

Less than a week later, workers were told the plant would be shut down.

'This is against the law'

Unifor said Thursday afternoon that the union has filed a complaint against Gingrich Woodcraft with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

"All I can tell you is this: This is against the law," said Unifor national representative Stephen Boon. "You cannot threaten or intimidate workers and take action directly aimed at unionization, and that's what this employer has done."

Boon said the company had been co-operative with the union, right up until the time of the vote. He hopes the owner will seek legal counsel.

"This could go away as soon as they realize what they are doing is against the law," he said. If not, Boon expects a labour relations hearing would take place in September.

Gingrich Woodcraft had been in business for 18 years.

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