The United Steelworkers allege a company called Payment Services Corp. (PSC) fired two employees in Northern Ontario after they joined the union.
Steelworkers representative Brad James said the union plans to file labour practice complaints against the company through the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
“The (Ontario Labour Relations Act) guarantees the rights of employees to support and participate in union activities free from discrimination and coercion,” James said. “We'll defend these folks as vigorously as we can.”
On Oct. 19, 2015, 17 out of 23 PSC salespeople in Northern Ontario voted in favour of joining United Steelworkers Local 1944 – which represents around 13,000 workers across Canada who were previously under the Telecommunication Workers Union.
The PSC employees are contracted by Bell Aliant to sale its FibreOP service in Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and other northeastern Ontario communities.
“These employees very much wanted to join the union,” said James, who added 74 per cent of the workers supported joining the union.
After its own internal investigation of the two dismissals, the Steelworkers have alleged they were due to those individuals' strong ties to the union.
“We have a good track record at resolving these complaints successfully,” James said. “We don't file them lightly.”
Once the complaints are filed, a tribunal with the Ontario Labour Relations Board will consider the evidence, and could either side with the company, supporting the employees' dismissals, or force PSC to rehire them.
James said the union hopes to start negotiating a collective agreement with the company in the new year.
Maria Ricci, PSC's vice-president of client services in North America, told NorthernLife.ca in an email the company “has no comments” on the Steelworkers' allegations or the dismissals of the employees in question.