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Gingrich cites ‘faith’ as reason to close

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A Devlin-based manufacturer whose employees recently decided to unionize has closed its doors due to the owner’s religious beliefs.

In a statement from Gingrich Woodcraft Inc., owner Leon Gingrich said that on Aug. 12, the majority of workers decided to join Unifor—and that’s a decision which goes against his beliefs.

“As Christian business owners, our personal beliefs will not allow our conscience the freedom to work with a labour union, as we are required by Scripture to ‘live peaceably with all men’ and not use force to gain what we want or for what is required to succeed,” he noted.

Gingrich went on to say that as of Monday, the production facility is closed.

Unifor national representative Stephen Boon told the Times yesterday that Gingrich abruptly called about 25 employees to a meeting Monday afternoon and fired them without notice.

“It is almost inconceivable that in a country like Canada in 2015, we are dealing with an employer that is willing to take the position that the Constitution and Ontario labour laws somehow do not apply to employees of Mennonite-operated businesses in [Rainy River District],” said Boon.

“Despite the fact that several Mennonite operations across Canada are already unionized, Gingrich management has taken the shocking stance that their ‘faith’ requires employees either remain non-union, and therefore underpaid and exploited, or instead be fired,” he noted.

“We often read about bully companies in Third World countries willing to crush union organizing drives to eliminate dissent and keep wages low,” Boon said.

“But these type of actions are almost unheard of in a modern, democratic country like Canada.”

Boon said Unifor has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact senior Gingrich managers to meet in person to discuss this announcement and the devastating effect on dozens of families around Fort Frances.

“But in the meantime, we will be exploring all available legal options to protect the rights of these workers from this mean-spirited and illegal attack,” he stressed.

Sixty-nine percent of Gingrich workers voted in favour of joining Unifor last Wednesday.

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