March 14, 2005

CAW courts Toyota’s Ontario workers

Cambridge, Ontario – The Canadian Auto Workers Union says it will probably seek a vote within the next month to represent more than 4,000 Toyota workers at the company’s two Cambridge, Ontario assembly plants.

CAW official Hemi Mitic confirmed last week that it expects to secure enough membership cards from Toyota workers to apply to the Labour Relations Board for a vote. None of Toyota’s assembly plants in North America are unionized, although unions have made attempts in the past. Only a joint venture plant between General Motors and Toyota in California is represented by the United Auto Workers.

Under Ontario law, the union can apply for certification if 40 per cent of the work force signs cards, and can only gain certification with 50 per cent plus one.

The CAW attempted certification in 2001 but did not count the votes, after Toyota Canada went to the labour board to clarify the size of the workforce. The move would have affected the percentage of votes necessary to win. This latest union drive started about five months ago.

Mitic said that Toyota employees are currently concerned with mandatory overtime, a lack of fairness from management and a constant push to work harder. Toyota spokesperson Greig Mordue said the company tries to schedule most of its overtime during the week and doesn’t force employees to work overtime if they have important commitments.

The plants produce the Toyota Corolla and Matrix, and Lexus RX 300. Workers earn approximately $31.30 per hour.

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