July 29, 2005

Congratulations to the workers at Quebecor World

It's the truth...unions are what made the middle class strong in this country, and the decline of the middle class can be directly linked to the decline of union membership in this country.

And even if you have never been a union member, you stand on their shoulders everytime you get overtime pay, have a weekend off or get a paid vacation. Do you get health care from your employer? When you are looking for a job, don't you at least look for one with "benefits?" Thank the unions. With less and less govenrment protection of workers, we need unions now more than ever.

Teamsters to represent Fernley Quebecor plant employees

Last Friday evening at the Fernley Senior Center, pressmen, production workers, technicians and other employees of Quebecor World in Fernley waited nervously as an election count was underway to determine whether a union would represent them as a bargaining unit on employee contracts.

A total of 207 employees were eligible to vote and 113 voted in favor of union representation while 52 employees voted against. A total of 42 employees didn’t vote and that number was included as a vote against the union and thus the election count was close with 113 in favor and 94 against.

Outside the Senior Center, some employees were overcome with emotion once they heard the vote and they cried and hugged each other, while others whooped it up knowing the Graphics Communication Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters would be representing them.

The effort to organize union representation for Quebecor employees took two-years and union supporters indicated it was a challenging journey as some supporters lost friends over the issue. Further, supporters also charged they were targets of harassment and intimidated by company management.


Mark Rupert, who initiated the unionization drive, celebrated quietly and said, “It’s 1776 reborn. It took two years and it feels like a new baby has been born.”

“I can’t even describe it,” said Lynn Vasquez, who works in materials. “It’s been my life for the last two years. It means everything.” She indicated she is hoping for better working conditions.

Last Friday, Quebecor officials gave no comments to the Leader-Courier following the vote.

Now, according to Rupert, a survey will be distributed among employees to determine what they want the union to bargain for and then a priority list will be initiated.
Then in about two weeks a bargaining team along with union officials will meet Quebecor officials to begin negotiating for a labor contract.

“We want dignity, respect and better health care,” said Rupert.

Paul Dumine, a pressman, said he supported union representation after he was diagnosed with cancer and experienced the company’s health care plan. Now he and his family are homeless and living wherever they can find a place, he said.


Kathey Hurley is hoping for better working conditions as she charged there have been times when she was not allowed any break and even had to eat her lunch on the presses.

Last October the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against Quebecor World, Fernley, and at plaints in Corinth, Miss., and Covington, Tenn. concerning allegations of union busting.

At the Fernley plant, employees charged Quebecor management threatened employees who are supporters of the union would be arrested. Further employees charged Quebecore prohibited union material from being distributed and conducted illegal surveillances.

In January the NLRB, in a settlement, found Quebecor violated federal labor laws. A part of the settlement agreement indicated that Quebecor would “not tell employees that they should look for work elsewhere because of support for or activity on behalf of the Union.”

Also, the agreement said, Quebecor would “not create the impression of surveillance and/or interrogate employees regarding rumored Union activity.” Further, it says federal laws give employees the right to “form, join or assist a union and federal law gives employees the right to choose representatives to bargain on their behalf.”

Best of luck to you as you embark on collective bargaining. Here's to health care and decent working conditions!

1 comment:

John F said...

I heard this outfit has a 400% turnover per year in their employee ranks. Having a Union will at least save them the expense of constantly recruiting new workers.
Union workers are happy workers, happy workers are more productive because they know they'll have a future with that company.

In this case, everybody wins. Go Union!