Setback for Historic Effort to Unionize Guest Farm Workers

Foreign crop pickers in Surrey made history last summer when they voted to unionize. Labour activists sensed a new pool of workers was now ripe for organizing.

But those gains are on the verge of being wiped away as labourers at Greenway Farms have filed to withdraw from the union certification won by the United Food and Commercial Workers.

If the de-certification attempt is successful in hearings slated for June 30 at the LRB, it will mark a set-back for the UFCW’s multi-year drive to unionize agricultural workers in Canada. Last summer’s win for the UFCW marked the first time in B.C. that migrant workers, brought into Canada as temporary guest workers under the controversial Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), had successfully joined a Canadian union.

However, most of the Mexican workers who supported the union drive a year ago reportedly have not been brought back this season, creating a mostly new and much more local work force at the farm.

Pro-union workers weeded out: organizer

Union organizer Lucy Luna told the Tyee that while Greenway had employed 35 Mexican workers through the federal guest worker program last year, only 12 migrant workers had been called back for this season, with the Greenway workforce topped up by hiring 28 new local Indo-Canadian workers.

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