Thunder Bay

Unifor files labour board complaints against northern Ontario furniture maker

The Ontario Labour Relations Board is looking into two complaints, filed by Unifor, against Fort Frances-area furniture manufacturer Gingrich Woodcraft, which closed its doors for what it calls religious reasons after workers voted in favour of joining a union.

Gingrich Woodcraft cited faith for closure after workers voted to join union

Gingrich Woodcraft, a furniture maker in Devlin, near Fort Frances, Ont., unexpectedly closed its doors after its 25 employees voted to unionize. (Facebook)
A scholar chimes in on a labour dispute in Devlin. The owner cited the bible when choosing to shut his business down, rather than see his employees unionize. Janis Thiessen has been studying Mennonite attitudes to labour relations, and says the split betw 6:44
The Ontario Labour Relations Board is looking into two complaints, filed by Unifor, against Fort Frances-area furniture manufacturer, Gingrich Woodcraft, which closed its doors for what it calls religious reasons after workers voted in favour of joining a union. 
The union alleges the company has engaged in an unfair labour practice and has started an illegal lockout.
Leon Gingrich, president of furniture manufacturer Gingrich Woodcraft, is facing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. (Vimeo/Woodworking Network)

A spokesperson for the labour board said a hearing will take place Monday morning in Toronto.

The furniture company based in Devlin, near Fort Frances, Ont., unexpectedly closed its doors after its 25 employees voted 69 per cent in favour of joining Unifor, the largest private-sector union in the country.

The owner, Leon Gingrich, has cited religious reasons for the closure.

The company 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."

Gingrich Woodcraft had been in business for 18 years.

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