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Wal-Mart Closure in Quebec Prompts Saskatchewan Unfair Labour Practice Complaint
November 28, 2008

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board will hear an application alleging that the closure of a unionized Wal-Mart store in Quebec constitutes an unfair labour practice in Saskatchewan.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union was successful in being certified for employees at a Wal-Mart in Jonquiere, Quebec. Following certification, Wal-Mart closed the Jonquiere store. At the time of the closure, there were applications pending before the Saskatchewan Labour Board to certify employees at a number of Wal-Mart stores in Saskatchewan. The UFCW filed an application alleging Wal-Mart committed an unfair labour practice contrary to the Saskatchewan Trade Union Act, R.S.S. 1978, c. T-17 by closing the Jonquiere store after it was unionized. According to the Union, the closure intimidated employees at any Wal-Mart stores who were attempting to organize, including stores in Saskatchewan.

Wal-Mart made a preliminary objection alleging that the Board did not have jurisdiction to hear and determine the Union’s complaint because the actions forming the basis for the alleged violations were committed outside of Saskatchewan.

The Board dismissed Wal-Mart’s preliminary objection. According to the Board, the fact that the actions of Wal-Mart upon which the allegations in the complaint are based were committed outside of Saskatchewan “does not mean that they cannot constitute a violation of the restriction on intimidation of its employees in a different province.” The Board acknowledged that it may not be able to reverse the closure of the Jonquiere store, but noted that there are other remedies it could award. Employers should be aware that a labour board faced with an unfair labour practice complaint may consider the employer’s conduct outside of the Board’s geographic jurisdiction.

UFCW Local 1400 v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp.