New Brunswick

Fredericton Toyota workers fighting to be recognized as a union

Since late January, garage workers at Toyota Canada have been trying to unionize, amid claims of employer intimidation and harassment.

15 garage workers signed union cards in support of forming a union, according to organizer

Since late January, garage workers at Toyota Canada have been attempting to unionize amid claims of employer intimidation and harassment. (Fredericton Toyota/Facebook)

Garage workers at Fredericton Toyota are in a months-long dispute with management to form a union. 

The New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board is now holding hearings on a certification bid by garage workers and complaints filed by some employees alleging unfair labour practices at Fredericton Toyota. 

CBC News tried to interview the workers but was told they could not speak publicly until the hearings concluded. 

Scott Jackson, an organizer with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said Toyota workers approached him in late January seeking help forming a union. 

About 15 out of 19 garage workers signed union cards indicating their interest in a union and paid a membership fee of $1, he said. 

In New Brunswick, labour laws say the board may certify a union if 60 per cent of employees are in support of the application. 

Claims of intimidation by management 

The workers who would be in the union include mechanics, technicians and detailers.

Jackson said the employees who spearheaded the unionization effort face increasing pressure from management because of their involvement. 

"When it was found out which techs were the ringleaders, if you will, there was a lot of pressure put on them with regard to the work that they were receiving or not receiving." 

Some employees have gone on stress leave and turned to employment insurance, Jackson said.

"They've just had to take time off and go on EI because there are no sick benefits or anything like that from this employer."

Dealership technicians live in "a crazy world," he said, because their pay is related to the specific jobs they receive.

"If they don't get good jobs, they make very little pay, and so it's very easy for a dealership to pressure them." 

Fredericton Toyota management did not respond to requests for an interview.

What it means to be in a union

Should the board certify the union application, Jackson said, the workers would have access to collective bargaining and a negotiations procedure where they can have increased input into how the workplace operates.

Jackson said protection would also be provided against unjust termination and discipline by the employer. 

"One of the things that these employees are going to be looking for is an improvement in wages and benefits … sick days. And of course, those things cost the employer money."

In an emailed statement, Toyota Canada said it could not comment on the matter because "Toyota dealerships in Canada are independently owned and operated businesses, and Toyota Canada is not involved in this matter in any way."

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