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On the 24 of June 2019, a conference was held assembling high-ranking representatives from companies like A&W and McDonald’s. LabourWatch, who hosted the quiet conference, is an organization that prides itself on their ability to provide information to “employees” who do not “want a union in their workplace.”
The group held their meeting at the Toronto Airport Hilton with an entrance fee of $899—affording guests whatever insight they managed to capture on unionization.
After welcoming remarks, the first one-hour presentation was titled “Union Tactics, Insider Knowledge” from an “Ex-Union Organizer.” Another speaker advertised in the day’s agenda was a representative from Honda. He summarized the topic of his speech in a question:
“4,300 Associates Union-Free at Honda in Ontario – How Does That Happen Over 30+ Years?”
The didactic “Do’s & Dont’s During a Unionization Drive,” and the emphatic “Another Teamsters Drive, They Never Stop!” were among titles of similar talks given to the well-to-do audience.
Now, in a recent report by PressProgress, they disclosed information on the contents of one particular presentation. In the outlet’s exclusive recordings, they have documented a discussion by A&W executives on how they keep their workplace “union-free.”
The talk was led by Nancy Wuttunee, the Vice President of A&W Canada’s department of “People Potential,” and her co-speaker, a regional VP for eastern Canada. With a colourful and inviting slideshow, they presented on the “watch list” kept actively on locations where workers are at a “high risk” of organizing.
“Maybe you’re on the watch list because you’re in a really high-risk area,” Wuttunnee told her audience. “It’s not always about what you do, it might be where you are.”
Wuttunnee went on to cite her worries over franchises operating in food courts where the majority of other employees are unionized. Wuttunee’s co-speaker provided Toronto Airport as a prime example of an area where “a very high volume of restaurants” precariously “surround[s]” their location with neighbouring “union employees.”
“Those restaurants [of ours] are on the watch list… because we want to stay really close: ‘How’s it going here? Do we know anything? Let’s pay attention’,” Wuttunnee explained.
Sometimes, Wuttunnee said, something will “worry us.” In those cases they enter a “crisis management process.” The response procedure demands what’s called, in company-speak, a “fire drill.”
“We stop everything we’re doing, it’s a fire drill, and we get people on the phone.”
One such fire drills was triggered at an understaffed restaurant when a union card was handed by a customer to an A&W cashier.
Moreover, Wuttunnee emphasized that she is always “looking proactively” for other threats to a union free workplace. For instance, the recent threat of unionized Foodora bike couriers was taken with potential alarm. A&W did not want union “spillover” from Foodora couriers interacting with their employees.
The Post Millennial reached out to A&W representatives and continues to wait for a response.
A similar closed-door meeting was held by Amazon and has also recently been exposed in proceedings with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Preventing workers from unionizing could mean a potential violation of the Employment Standards Act.