Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters



Employees fired to stop union drive, workers allege
For Immediate Release http://www.seiu.ca/node/350

Vancouver, May 8, 2008 – A group of former Petcetera employees filed a complaint with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board today alleging the company terminated almost half of its workforce in an attempt to bust a union drive.

Canadian Petcetera Limited Partnership is a Vancouver big box retailer specializing in pet products.

“We did not receive adequate training and lacked proper safety equipment. Our concerns always fell on deaf ears though. We knew that we could make this a better workplace for ourselves, the customers and the animals if we united,” says Loukas Christopoulos.

In April, employees at the Vancouver Petcetera store began discussing the idea of forming a union to deal with a number of workplace concerns. After a majority of workers expressed support for the idea of forming a union they scheduled a meeting with representatives of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Just days before that meeting took place Petcetera terminated almost half of the store’s workforce. A week after the initial terminations, two additional employees were fired after signing union cards and attending a meeting in support of the terminated employees.

“I have held respectable positions in my career where I supervised employees, and I was shocked when I was dismissed over the phone; they’re wrong if they think they can stop a legitimate worker’s union drive by firing us,” says retired professor Joel Milgram.

Petcetera has justified the mass termination by claiming the store was not doing well and that the terminated employees were not part of the company’s restructuring plan.

Christopoulos strongly objects to those claims and says not only was the store doing extremely well, but the store’s General Manager stated that the firings were related to the union drive.

The case is now pending before the British Columbia Labour Relations Board.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the largest and fastest growing union in North America, with 100,000 workers in Canada and 1.9 million workers across North America.

Media Contact: Amanda Walker

Comment: Although a job at Petcetera is considered an entry level position, if employees are treated decently they will be more inclined to stay.  From what we’ve been told by ex-staff members, there were all sorts of problems that caused them to move on.   We have also documented atrocious conditions and lack of adequate care for the animals who had the misfortune of being exploited by this ruthless industry.  

Date of Decision: June 6, 2008 

Decision of the Board  

1 The Complainants filed an unfair labour practice complaint against the Employer. A question arose in the course of the hearing about whether Local 2 is constituted as a "trade union" under the Labour Relations Code (the "Code"). 

2 The parties settled their differences on a without prejudice basis, except for the question of Local 2's status. I was asked to decide that question. 

3 I have reviewed Local 2's Constitution and a letter dated January 22, 2008 from the Service Employees International Union (the "International"). The letter from the International shows that it approved Local 2's Constitution and Bylaws. 

4 I conclude on the basis of the foregoing documents that Local 2 has the status of a trade union under the Code. Labour Relations Board “Ken Saunders”, Ken Saunders, Vice-Chair