Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dear Just Us! owners & management,
“People and the planet before profits,” seems to be your mission statement, even your mantra, if you will. Unfortunately, it is quite clear, based on your recent anti-labour activity, that these are just empty words.
As the largest union in Nova Scotia, representing almost 30,000 women and men delivering public services throughout this province, I previously believed we shared many of the values you espouse.
Many of our members have also proudly supported your business over the years, as well, believing that your cooperative business model was part of a larger social justice movement here in Nova Scotia. So, as members of this community, we are deeply concerned to hear that two employees claim to have been fired for trying to organize and form a union.
Theoretically, it would seem that a unionized workforce would align itself well within Just Us’ ideals. As the aforementioned mission statement explains so clearly, Just Us! strives to “put people before profits.” And according to your own website, your way of doing business is “based on community ownership and democratic principles.”
Well, a central cornerstone of democracy here in Canada is the right to unionize, work-to-rule and strike. That right is enshrined in our Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
We are very disappointed to hear that two of your employees, Shay Enxuga and Elijah Williams, may have been terminated for their union activity, and that other employees say they have been intimidated and threatened with reprisals. If these allegations are true, Just Us! has not only broken the law, but it has also violated the trust it has built with patrons who believed they shared the same values the Co-op claims to have.
We are calling on Just Us! to unequivocally confirm its status as a socially-conscious business in our community by reinstating the dismissed union supporters, ceasing all anti-union activity and recognizing their right to form a union.
Just Us! should be acting as a leader for worker rights in Nova Scotia, not a violator.
We will be speaking about this situation with our members, as well: we plan to post this letter to our website and to present an emergency resolution regarding the situation at our biennial Convention, which is being held in Halifax from May 8th to 11th.
***UPDATE: At the NSGEU’s 2013 Convention, Locals and delegates raised over $11,000 to donate to the two dismissed workers.