Striking workers at Palace Casino in West Edmonton Mall have won a major victory in arbitration, one that imposes a stinging penalty for flagrant employer misconduct. In an award issued yesterday regarding a grievance filed before the strike began, an arbitrator has awarded monetary damages to UFCW Local 401, and to the individual members at Palace Casino.
The ruling found that an employer ban on the wearing of union pins was discriminatory, and a deprivation of employee rights to freedom of expression and the union's ability to represent its members. The arbitrator therefore awarded $10,000 to the union, $500 to each employee, and a further $1,000 to employees who were confronted in the workplace and ordered to remove their union pins.
The grievance stems from UFCW's campaign to become certified as the union representing workers at Palace Casino, after the employer withdrew an existing voluntary recognition of the union. The fact that a collective agreement was already in place, however, meant that employee rights were already protected by a contract. After hearing argument from both sides, the arbitrator ruled that:
"I find that the company's breach was committed intentionally to prevent employees from exhibiting support for UFCW. I believe that this was done in the hope that it would discourage Union membership and increase the likelihood that the Union's certification bid would fail."
Doug O'Halloran, president of UFCW 401 said: the award provides a big boost to the morale of the striking workers. "We've won an important victory with this grievance, and by sticking together we can win an even bigger one in this strike."
AFL President Gil McGowan agrees. "This ruling shows that employers can't get away with trampling over the Charter rights of their employees, at least not when there's a union in the workplace to defend those rights."
For more information contact:
Gil McGowan Cell: (780) 218-9888