Nova Scotia

Michelin, Clearwater against Bill 102

Two more of Nova Scotia's best-known and biggest employers are coming out against Bill 102, which critics describe as a job killer that would give unions a foothold in non-union workplaces.
Dana LeBlanc, president of Michelin North America, is against Bill 102. (CBC)
Two more of Nova Scotia's best-known and biggest employers came out against Bill 102, a proposed labour law that critics say would give unions a foothold in non-union workplaces.

The Dexter government's controversial labour bill is before an all-party committee examining the proposed law.

On Wednesday night, Michelin and Clearwater added voices to what's already a substantial business lobby to kill the bill at the law amendments committee of the legislature

"First Contract Arbitration is well-known union organizing tool," said Dana LeBlanc, president of Michelin North America.

He said he sees it as a threat that the province is ready to empower a labour board to impose a one-year contract when a newly formed union cannot reach a deal on a first contract after at least 120 days of bargaining and conciliation.

The NDP government said it would boost productivity by avoiding strikes or lockouts.

LeBlanc said Michelin wants no part of that kind of outside interference.

"We do not want any third party, who knows nothing about our business, deciding our employment terms and conditions. And risks subjecting us to costs that we cannot afford. That would leave us very few options."

Business in N.S.

LeBlanc said simply having that kind of law on the books will chill the province's business climate.

He said in the future when Michelin is looking to invest, head office may take a pass on the three plants in Nova Scotia.

"It makes my job and other people's jobs very difficult to sell Nova Scotia as a better place to invest than many of the other sites Michelin has around the world," said LeBlanc. "It's not do or die, but it's very serious. You can't sustain that type of activity over the long haul."

Clearwater president Colin MacDonald said he can't understand why the bill is considered during an ecomony in turmoil. (CBC)
The president of Clearwater Seafood said he just doesn't understand why the legislation is needed now.

"They don't need to interject themselves between the company and the union," Colin MacDonald told the committee. "What are we doing passing this legislation at this time? There are other issues the government needs to deal with without riling up the business community."

Earlier this month, PC Leader Jamie Baillie said he considers first contract arbitration to be a job killer.

Although unions have tried more than a dozen times to organize Michelin workers, it remains a union-free workplace.

Unions that want to organize one plant must organize all three at the same time — a protection granted by provincial law.

The French-owned company employs 3,400 Nova Scotians, and has plants in Granton, Bridgewater and Waterville.

On Monday, grocery giant Sobeys came out against Bill 102, saying no outside body should have the power to impose work conditions or salaries on its chain.