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Vote to unionize Toyota Canada plant faces delay

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:28:00 EST

Volkswagen isn't the only automaker with high-profile unionization efforts afoot at one of its North American factories. Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, is attempting to organize Toyota's factories in Ontario, reports Reuters. A vote was originally set for next week, but Unifor has apparently found more workers eligible to vote, delaying the proceedings. It hasn't rescheduled the ballot yet, but claims there are 7,500 employees with the right to vote, with over 3,000 having already signed union cards.

Toyota is pushing against organizing, saying that workers already have a payment and benefits near the top of the industry, and noting that it has never laid off a permanent employee in Canada. Unifor has reportedly countered by saying that about a quarter of the workforce is operating under a temporary contract, which receives lower benefits.

The automaker has three factories in Ontario – two in Cambridge and one in Woodstock. To form a union, a majority of eligible employees must vote to join Unifor. If successful, they would be the first wholly owned Toyota plants in North America to be organized. Previous attempts to unionize the Japanese automaker's Canadian factories in 2001 and 2008 failed due to lack of support.

According to Reuters, Unifor also represents workers at General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler in Canada, but it says that if approved, a unionization agreement with Toyota would be specifically tailored to the company. The union is young, having been formed last year when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union merged.

By Chris Bruce

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