Victory: Food Terminal Workers Union Wins First Contract

From our neighbours who work at the Ontario Food Terminal:

We have just returned from signing the contract. All of us voted yes on the proposals. Everyone is happy with what we have and we are looking forward to returning to work tomorrow, after almost two weeks on strike.

For all of us, this is our first union and our first collective agreement. Since coming to Canada, none of us have ever worked in a unionized environment. We feel more secure in our jobs. We fought and gained many concessions from the employer.

We feel very grateful for the support we received during our strike from community members, labour unions and other organizations. Thank you all for sharing our story, for calling the company, for joining us in solidarity on the picket line. You helped make this deal possible.

We want to celebrate this win with all of you at a Tibetan restaurant in Parkdale. Stay posted for the details!

In solidarity and on behalf of all workers at Ippolito Produce,

Jamyang, November 18, 2017

Message from the strikers (November 8, 2017):

There are about twenty-five of us who work for Ippolito foods at the Ontario Food Terminal. We have been on strike since Tuesday this week, and are hoping that this trike leads to improved job security, fair wages and scheduling, paid sick leave, and better treatment by management.

We have been having a lot of problems with management for a long time. Our boss demands that we speed up our work, and does not give us enough time to finish tasks. He threatens to punish people for not finishing these tasks in time. We work with a lot of big machines, and it is dangerous for us to be going too fast. We are worried this is unsafe. Our boss also threatens our job security. He is constantly saying that he can fire us at any time if we don’t do what he says. He says that he has lots of people outside asking for work, so firing any of us would be easy for him.

Scheduling is a big concern for us. On days when it isn’t so busy, our boss will sometimes send us home after only a few hours of work with no notice. Some of us live far away, and it is hard for us when our boss does this. They also refuse to give us sick days.

We made the decision to form a union this summer, and are now negotiating for our first contract. We have had a lot of support from other workers at the Food Terminal. About half of the companies at the Food Terminal are unionized now, and workers at Fresh Taste had a successful strike last year. The Fresh Taste workers have supported us by showing us how to picket.

Of course there is a connection between our strike and the need for affordable housing. Rents go up every year, but our wages have stayed the same for a long time. Some of us were involved in the Rent Strike this year, so we know how these fights are connected.

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