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Ruling Unionizes AU Workers In Sask.

If they perform the same kinds of duties as Viterra’s unionized employees, former Agricore United (AU) workers at grain handler Viterra’s Saskatchewan elevators or Regina head office are now also union members.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) made an interim ruling to that effect March 10 as it plans a major bargaining unit review for Canada’s largest grain company, which formed in 2007 through the merger of AU and Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.

“The purpose of this review will be for the (CIRB) to review any supplementary evidence and submiss ions relevant to the issue of how the bargaining units should be changed, if at all,” the CIRB wrote.

Unionized workers at Viterra’s Saskatchewan elevators and head office, previously employees of SaskPool, have been and still are represented by the Grain Services Union (GSU).

“In summary the CIRB’s decision does not say that GSU’s current Viterra bargaining units are inappropriate, but finds that a review is in order since a sale of a business occurred as defined by the Canada Labour Code,” the GSU said in a release March 11.

The board’s ruling means AU workers who are employed by Viterra in country operations and maintenance jobs in Saskatchewan are now included in GSU’s current country operations and maintenance bargaining units in the province.

By extension, the GSU said March 11, the CIRB’s decision also means former AU employees who were transferred to jobs “in scope” in Regina are included in the GSU’s Viterra head office bargaining unit.

The CIRB ruling gave the GSU and Viterra 30 days from March 10 to see if the union and the company can reach an agreement on the structure of bargaining units throughout Viterra’s operations.

If the two sides can’t agree, the CIRB will take submissions from the union and company and/or hold more hearings, then make a final determination itself, the union explained.

Decisions to be made include whether Viterra office workers who remained in Winnipeg and Calgary after the AU/SaskPool merger would be covered under an expanded “office” bargaining unit.

The GSU said March 11 that it plans to ask for a 10-day extension of the CIRB’s time limit.

The CIRB last year also certified the GSU to represent separate new bargaining units for Viterra’s specialty crop and bean plant at Carman, and for the company’s country elevator and “agri-sales” workers in Manitoba.

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