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Report/Press release

UFCW Canada and AWA showcased as model of activism by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)

Date

2009

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

- UFCW Canada and AWA showcased as model of activism by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)

- Positive exchange with Mexican leaders

- Civil Liberties association supports UFCW Canada

Series title

AWA E-News

Responsible institution

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Full text

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)
UFCW Canada and the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) were honoured by the OFL in the form of the prestigious Bob Borch Human Rights Award, which the OFL presents at each convention to organizations or individuals who display an extraordinary commitment to furthering the rights of workers in Ontario.

“The tireless efforts of UFCW Canada and the AWA on behalf of agriculture workers is the amazing and untold story of the Ontario labour movement,” said OFL President Wayne Samuelson in presenting the Borch Award to Wayne Hanley, who serves both organizations as national president, on the third day of the provincial labour federation’s 2009 convention.

"It’s an honour to accept this award on behalf of all the people who have given so much of themselves to this campaign over the past 15 years," said Hanley, flanked by several long-time activists who have helped to make the support centre program possible.

“What we need are over 30,000 of these awards. One for every migrant farm worker who comes to Canada every year. They part with their loved ones each year to work our fields and produce our food. They are the real heroes, their courage inspires our efforts, and this award belongs to all of them."

Positive exchange with Mexican leaders

A delegation of Mexican federal senators and deputies (the equivalent of MPs) visited Canada last week for the XVIth Canada-Mexico Interparliamentary Meetings with Canadian MPs and senators, held in Saint John, N.B., and Ottawa.

While in Canada, Mexican government members took the opportunity to meet with UFCW Canada leaders on issues affecting Mexican workers in the agriculture sector.

“We had a very positive exchange of experiences and concerns about Canada’s programs involving Mexican workers,” says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “It was the first time we had the chance to meet with senators and deputies in this important venue, and we are hopeful it could lead to collaborative efforts in the future with different institutions in Mexico to help workers here.”

Civil Liberties association supports UFCW Canada

As the Dec. 17 hearing date of UFCW Canada’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada draws near, the list of players has changed with the addition of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) as an intervener on the union’s side.

The short form reference for the case is Fraser v. Ontario, and the union’s goal is to enforce lower court rulings that have consistently told the office of the Ontario Attorney
General to change laws in the province to enforce the collective bargaining rights of agriculture workers. Instead of complying with multiple court orders, however, the Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty continues to deny workers their rights as determined by the courts, and has drawn the case out on appeal to the highest court in the land.

The inclusion of the CCLA’s intervention on behalf of the case for civil liberties should bolster the effort, as, at the same time, a second provincial attorney general’s office
(Newfoundland & Labrador) has withdrawn its support for the Ontario government’s case. Earlier, Saskatchewan’s attorney general had also withdrawn from involvement.

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Nova Scotia, and National relevance

Languages

French, English, and Spanish