After the longest certification campaign in Saskatchewan’s history, workers at the Weyburn Wal-Mart voted to decertify. The decertification vote took place in 2010, but the ballot box was sealed pending a court challenge and appeal. Wal-Mart was found guilty of numerous unfair labour practices since the union, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), was initially certified in 2008. In 2012, the UFCW sought leave with the Supreme Court of Canada to keep the decert ballot box sealed, but the court refused to hear the case. When the decertification votes were counted last week, the ballots cast were 51-5. The decertification campaign was led by Wal-Mart employee, Gordon Button, who is related to Weyburn’s mayor, Debra Button. The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board was not able to find evidence that Mr. Button was acting on behalf of Wal-Mart.
Health care workers in the U.S. have rallied against the LEAN management practices being introduced in a handful of private hospitals. LEAN management is based on just-in-time production processes pioneered in automotive manufacturing and is commonly associated with Toyota and Japanese models of industrial work processes. The Government of Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction outside of the United States to experiment with LEAN in public health care. Unions and health care workers across Canada should pay close attention to these developments.