toyotauniforApril 3, 2014 5 p.m.

(Kitchener) Today Unifor announced it will escalate its campaign to unionize Toyota.

Unifor announced that while it is withdrawing its Labour Board application to become the bargaining agent for team members at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, the labour union remains committed to working with Toyota team members to form a union and improve working conditions at the company.

Yesterday Toyota provided its employee list to Unifor and the Ontario Labour Relations Board, indicating that the company has approximately 7,500 employees it believes are eligible to be part of the bargaining unit.

“That is an interesting number because Toyota’s production decreased 3% in 2013 and is forecast to have lower volumes in 2014,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We would be surprised if under such circumstances Toyota had hired upwards of 1000 people. If Toyota is hiring, that’s wonderful. But it would be unusual – so we are going to look at that list carefully.”

“Regardless, now we have the number to work from,” said Dias, stressing that Unifor had based its estimation of 6,590 employees on public statements and filings made by the company. “We had a tough choice to make,” Dias explained. “We can engage in a lengthy legal battle about the employee list – or we can build on the momentum we have and get more cards signed. We’ve chosen the latter.”

Instead of going to a vote next week, Unifor said it will taking the time to get more cards signed so there is no dispute over the numbers and the union can move forward successfully.

“We started this week with great excitement,” said Carrie Ann Ostrom, a Toyota team member of 11 years in Cambridge. “Today I’m just as determined to bring a union to Toyota. There’s no doubt this is a stumbling block, but I’m far from giving up hope. There are still thousands of team members counting on us. We will redouble our efforts to build greater support in all three facilities.” Ostrom spoke at the press conference on March 31 announcing the certification application.

“Over 3,000 of us have signed cards at Toyota to join Unifor,” said Ken Cleveland, a 17 year Toyota veteran in Cambridge. “This is a clear sign that people want a union and even this week, more cards were coming in. The problems facing Toyota team members have not been addressed. With an extra push, I know we’ll be able to succeed.”

The union has committed to redoubling its efforts at Toyota and will continue the campaign to form a union with Toyota team members.