Erin Crampton 0

Justice for Mayfair Farms Workers

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What Happened -In the fall of 2006, Spanish speaking Mexican employees working for Mayfair farms in Portage la Prairie MB signed union cards. Some of the workers had landed in jail following a dispute unrelated to their jobs; the UFCW allegedly promised them legal help if they joined the union. -The documents that the workers signed were written only in English. -The Spanish speaking workers signed a declaration recanting their support once they learned what the papers that they had signed said. This declaration was rejected by the labour board as the Mexican employees had not submitted the declaration on a proper form. The workers hired a lawyer to submit the paperwork correctly, at which time the board rejected the recantation stating that it had been submitted too late. -The Mexican workers returned to Mexico for the winter. It was only after signing the union cards that the workers found out some pretty basic facts about joining a union. Only after signing did they become aware that they would be obliged to pay union dues, that the union would bargain for them to have days off, and that the union would most likely ask the farm to pay them overtime. Days off and overtime pay are points that on the surface may seem like positives, but the Mexican employees most certainly do not see it that way. Many of the employees rely on their Canadian incomes as the sole source of money for themselves and their families for the full year. They come to Canada in the spring hoping to work as many hours as possible to bank as much Canadian money as they can to send home. Days off mean days with no pay, which means less money to send home to the family. Farmers requiring to pay their workers time and a half for overtime will most certainly ensure that no employee works over 40 hours per week, decreasing the migrant workers\' wages even more. I had the workers who could write, and were willing to participate, fill out a questionnaire. This is what they told me. Unanimously, all of the 38 workers who filled in the survey indicated the reason that they and their colleagues signed the union cards were to help their friends who were in legal trouble. Those workers who chose to elaborate further stated (translated, with my explanations in square brackets): \"The union representative [Lincon] had us all sign the papers. He told us that he would get us a good lawyer. The lawyer never appeared. It was the Canadian Government that gave us a lawyer. Lincon took his signed papers and took off. We need someone to help us. We


My name is Erin Crampton, I own a small seasonal market called Crampton\'s Market in Winnipeg Manitoba that specializes in locally grown produce, locally produced dry goods, locally produced natural meats, and fair trade foreign products. I personally know the farmers that I purchase from. I visit their farms, I know their kids, I

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