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Settlement reached for Gingrich workers

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A significant settlement was reached today at the Ontario Labour Relations Board for employees of Gingrich Woodcraft Inc. who were terminated in August when they voted to unionize and join Unifor.

The owners had shut down the custom cabinet-making factory, claiming their religious beliefs precluded them from working with a union.

“I am pleased to announce we’ve negotiated a settlement that includes a significant monetary compensation package for the Gingrich Woodcraft workers, and ensures excellent prospects for their re-employment” said Jerry Dias, Unifor’s national president.

As part of the settlement, the company will pay its employees 35 weeks wages at their regular hours and rate, retroactive to Aug. 17, 2015.

The only time this would cease is if the plant re-opens and the workers resume employment

Gingrich Woodcraft Inc. has told the board and Unifor that it is in negotiations to sell the business as a going concern.

It said a sale was expected to take place shortly.

As part of the sale, any purchaser will be informed that Unifor is the certified bargaining agent for employees at the plant, and that the purchaser is obliged to rehire the former employees of Gingrich Woodcraft Inc.

The company must also endorse the skills and abilities of its former employees to any purchaser.

Gingrich Woodcraft also agreed that if any purchaser pays its workers less than their original wage, their rate of pay will be topped up to their regular rate for a period of 35 weeks.

Unifor national representative Stephen Boon stressed that Unifor’s goal is to see the plant re-open.

“This a highly skilled, loyal group of workers and Unifor is committed to working with a potential buyer to get this operation back into production in the near future,” he remarked.

The Labour Board will also be issuing a declaration that the company’s actions violated the Ontario Labour Relations Act.

“I’m glad this matter has come to a swift and positive resolution,” said Dias.

“This decision makes it very clear that the rights of workers to join a union are paramount,” he added. “And Unifor will always stand up for workers’ rights.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers.

It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

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