Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Marvid Kosher:violations of Labor Code, firing for union activities, where are the Jewish tree huggers? Oh that's right it's only people suffering.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The Marvid Kosher Chichen plant strike in Quebec, Canada enters its 5th month. There are violations of the Labor Code, a worker was fired for union activities, and just read the conditions workers are protesting in and the reasons why they are on strike.

Where are the Jewish tree hugger activists? Where are all the people who condemned and swore off Rubashkins meats? Oh that's right it's only people suffering. If these workers were animals there would be outcry, there would be protest.

Feel free to contrast this with the Rubaskin scandal. I'm sure the Conservative movement won't be banning Marvid anytime soon.

I would note some of the articles are from leftist organizations, for all you nay-sayers I've included links to the original Canadian labor board decisions (originally in French, but the google links automatically translate them to English which is slightly understandable) that I've used to determine they are accurate.

The Militant Vol. 69/No. 4 January 31, 2005

Montreal poultry workers strike for livable workweek
(back page)
MONTREAL—The 90 members of the Union of Volailles Marvid Workers, affiliated to the National Confederation of Trade Unions (CSN), have just entered their fifth month on strike. The employer, Volailles Marvid, is the largest certified kosher poultry abattoir in Quebec. “We’re fighting for a guaranteed minimum 30-hour workweek, because 15 to 20 hours isn’t enough,” said Luc Dufour, 38, who has worked at the company for eight months. “We’re not asking for much.”
In February 2003, after the company started a second production line, workers saw their former 39-hour workweek cut in half or less. Their weekly take-home pay fell to between CAN $150 and $200 (CAN $1 = U.S. $0.82). Strikers told the Militant that since February 2002 the bosses have selectively used temp agency workers for tasks normally done by union members, often bringing them in while union members are told to stay home because there’s no work.

Despite often freezing temperatures, both the company owners and the city of Montreal has denied the union permission to set up a picket trailer. The city has also denied workers permission to set up a wood-burning barrel to warm their hands. So when temperatures plunge well below zero the union has been making sure that no-one pickets for more than 15 minutes at a time and that a few cars, engines running, are at their disposal to warm up.

“Our numbers on the picket line have dropped off because of the cold,” said Carlo Désir, the union president. “But others have decided not to look for other jobs in order to support the strike. We all agree that we won’t go back with our heads down and that we have to wage this battle to the end.”

On November 30, the striking workers voted 96 percent against the first company offer since their contract expired in December 2003. The contract contained no guaranteed hours, and made no mention of wages, vacations, pensions, or paid leaves for illness or other reasons, with the exception of legal holidays.

The union has had to confront a number of challenges since the strike began September 13. At the beginning of November, striking workers were handed an injunction that limited pickets to 18 at a time and forced strikers to move the line to the other side of the street. Two weeks later, however, workers were able to get the injunction modified to allow them to resume picketing on the sidewalk in front of the plant.

The union has been able to push the bosses back on some other points. On October 30, the union filed a complaint before the Quebec Labor Relations Board (CRT), charging the company with using some 40 replacement workers to maintain production, in violation of the Quebec Labor Code, which bans the use of salaried workers, other than supervisory personnel, to replace striking or lock-out workers.

The union won a partial victory November 2, when the CRT ruled that relatives of supervisory personnel, as well as rabbis who were paid to insure that chickens are slaughtered according to strict Jewish ritual before the strike began, could not work during the strike. The CRT also ruled, however, that persons who voluntarily offer their services to Volailles Marvid out of religious conviction could legally work during the strike. The company has continued to use this loophole in the Labor Code to its advantage. But it was caught violating the ruling December 29 when a CRT board member, through the vigilance of the union, witnessed three of the rabbis named in the ruling entering the plant.

Désir estimates that the abattoir is presently running at about 25 percent of capacity. An article published in the November 11 internet edition of The Canadian Jewish News said, “In a rare move… the city’s main kosher certification body…, the Vaad Ha'ir, began to allow suppliers from outside Montreal—most prominently from the U.S.-based Empire Kosher Poultry—to bring kosher chickens into the city to cope with the shortage,” which was caused by the strike.

In another CRT ruling handed down November 23, the company was ordered to reinstate Arnold Fertil, a worker who was fired for union activities August 11, a month before the strike. Léo Ouellette, the CSN counsellor assigned to the strike, told the Militant that the company has recently appealed this ruling.

Glorieuse Dorvil, who has worked at Marvid for 26 years, told this reporter that on December 28 strikers received their weekly $200 strike pay, plus a Christmas bonus of $150, drawn from the some $9,000 contributed so far by other CSN-affiliated unions.

On that snowy day, a group of strikers, in high spirits, returned to the picket line and began to dance and sing to a rhythmic popular carnival tune in Haiti called “Don’t give us that.” The strikers, 80 percent of whom are Haitian, have adapted the lyrics of this song to include the main demands of the strike.

At one point, one of the bosses came out of the plant, walked toward them, stared at the workers contemptuously for several minutes while leaning on a shovel, then shook his head in disbelief and slowly turned back toward the plant.

“Since the November 30 vote,” said Dorvil, “we’ve heard nothing from the company, but what’s encouraging is that the solidarity among us is strong and our morale remains high.”

Aimée Kendergian, a meat packer in Montreal, contributed to this article.

The Militant Vol. 69/No. 01 January 11, 2005

Quebec poultry workers
in 4th month of strike
Militant/Sylvie Charbin

MONTREAL—December 16 union Christmas party marked the third month on strike by members of the Volailles Marvid Workers’ Union, affiliated with the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN). On November 30, the poultry workers voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s first contract proposal since the contract expired in December 2003. The offer made no mention of guaranteed work hours. Following the opening of a new production line a few months ago, the workweek has been reduced to an average of 20 hours, which is not even guaranteed, strikers report. The unionists have been on strike since September 13.


The Militant Vol. 68/No. 44 November 30, 2004
SWP vice-presidential candidate visits Quebec and Scotland

MONTREAL—On the first day of her November 7-8 visit here, Arrin Hawkins, Socialist Workers Party vice-presidential candidate in the U.S. elections, met with nearly two dozen workers on strike against Volailles Marvid. The poultry workers welcomed the socialist candidate and discussed a wide range of questions while the boss was watching through the window of the plant.
Hawkins described her experiences at the picket line of workers on strike against Quality Meat Packers (QMP) in Toronto, which she had visited two days earlier. The company’s inability to divide the workforce by nationality is a strength of the workers there fighting for livable wages, she said.

André Blémur, who has been working at Volailles Marvid for 18 years and who is now a general worker in the salting department, asked how did QMP workers achieved this level of unity.

Hawkins replied that QMP workers are using their union more effectively by drawing on their experiences during a previous strike they lost six years ago. “They are mobilizing union power like you are doing now,” she said. The need of workers to organize unions and use those that already exist to resist more effectively the bosses’ attacks on our wages and benefits has been at the center of the SWP campaign, Hawkins said, along with the need to build a labor party based on the trade unions that would fight to defend the interests of working people 365 days a year.

Glorieuse Dorvil, another Volailles Marvid worker, said the threats of closing the plant don’t scare them anymore.

Hawkins said she identified with this attitude. Only by standing up to the employers and telling them, when they threaten to shut down, that any company that can’t pay decent wages and benefits doesn’t deserve to stay in business do we have a chance to fight to win, she said. And if a company folds up tent and moves, workers should do our best to follow them wherever they go and collaborate with fellow workers at the new location to organize and fight the bosses there too.

Later that afternoon, Hawkins met with other workers on strike against the provincial liquor stores. In the evening she spoke at a Militant Labor Forum in Montreal, which 20 people attended.

Hawkins was welcomed by students at two colleges the next day. At Maisonneuve Cegep, the International Solidarity Action Group (GASI), a student organization, opened its office to anyone who wanted to hear about and discuss the SWP campaign.

After Hawkins described her experiences on the Volailles Marvid picket line, one of the students asked about the exact location of the poultry workers strike. Eight of the students signed up to visit the picket line.

One of the students said that workers in northern Quebec had occupied a part of the aluminum refinery protesting the shutdown of that operation. He explained that they were able to run the smelter better than the bosses had, which showed that workers don’t need bosses.

Hawkins said that such gains can only be temporary as long as the capitalist system remains intact. A social revolution is needed, so workers and farmers can take state power and begin reorganizing production and distribution of goods for the benefit of the vast majority, not the profits of a tiny minority, she said.

Hawkins and campaign supporters were there all morning. Before students left for classes at noon, several had bought copies of the Militant and Pathfinder Press pamphlets in French.

That afternoon, through the initiative of one of the students who had heard Hawkins speak the day before at the Militant Labor Forum, Hawkins spoke to a political science class at Rosemont College. One of the students was happy to translate and even though the professor had originally allotted 15 minutes for Hawkins he kept encouraging students to ask any questions they might have.

One of the points that drew the students’ interest was the explanation by Hawkins on why the SWP campaign champions the right of semicolonial countries to develop the sources of energy they need for economic development, including nuclear power . Such development, she said, is a precondition for any economic and political advances of working people. The SWP campaign also exposes the hypocritical efforts of Washington and other imperialist powers to prevent countries like Iran and north Korea from developing nuclear energy under the banner of “nonproliferation,” Hawkins said.

The lively exchange lasted about 45 minutes and Hawkins was warmly applauded at the end.

4) several french labor articles

5) Canadian Labor board decisions


6) Marvid Chicken

The following kashrus notice was from the Jewish Community Council of Montreal (MK) on December 29, 2004.

Please be advised that due to an ongoing strike, all chickens currently packed in Marvid packaging are Empire chickens, bearing certification of the OU and the KAJ.

The Marvid chicken strike continues.

As the saga unfolds, union negotiations are at a standstill which means that no resolution is currently in sight.

Under normal circumstances, residents of the city of Montreal and its suburbs purchase poultry processed exclusively by Marvid. However, at this time the quantity of poultry prepared for the market’s consumption is severely diminished due to lack of workers and demand is disproportionately high. Therefore The Jewish Community Council of Montreal has allowed chickens to be brought in from other suppliers provided the Kosher certification is approved by the Vaad Harabbonim of Montreal. Empire from the United States is currently supplying all chickens sold in supermarkets in Marvid packaging, bearing the OU and KAJ certification. Click Here for more infomation.


Kosher poultry strike entering third month
Staff Reporter

MONTREAL – An almost two-month-old strike at the Jewish community’s sole kosher chicken supplier, Marvid (Volailles), has resulted in continued uncertainty over the poultry supply despite recent efforts to make up for the shortage.

“It’s been very difficult,” said Avi Brook, owner of the Cote St. Luc Kosher Meat Market. “We don’t have enough.”

The strike by about 100 poultry workers at the northeast-end plant began Sept. 13, just prior to the start of the High Holy Days, and there is no sign of its letting up.

The strikers, members of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), are seeking improved working conditions and wages.

Brook, whose family has owned the butcher shop for 50 years, was forced to tell customers during the holidays, and occasionally since then, that he had no chickens left. “I turned customers away.”

In a rare move last week, the city’s main kosher certification body, the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, or Vaad Ha’ir, began to allow suppliers from outside Montreal – most prominently the U.S-based Empire Kosher Poultry – to bring kosher chickens into the city as a way to cope with the shortage.

Normally, the Vaad forbids the importation of kosher meats other than its own to its MK-certified butcher shops and grocery stores, which risk losing their hechsher if they do not comply.

“We have allowed establishments under our supervision to bring in chickens from outside Montreal, provided their kosher certification is approved by ourselves,” said Vaad executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel.

“Marvid continues to supply the market. There were some shortages on certain days, but the situation is now improved,” Rabbi Emanuel said.

Murray Steinberg, a local agent for Toronto-based Chai Poultry, is refusing to agree to the Vaad’s offer, since it is his understanding that it will end once the strike does or even earlier.

“It would cost me too much to do it that way,” said Murray, who imports frozen Chai products for local Costcos and for kosher establishments not under the MK.

“What I would really like to see is a free and open market,” he told The CJN.

Moshe Friedman, Marvid’s owner and president, said additional poultry supplied by Empire would bring the supply back up to 100 per cent from the current 75, but declined to be quoted on any other issue related to Marvid’s problems unless he could vet the article first.

Brook said the importing of meat from the United States would only work as a stopgap measure. “They’ll come from the U.S., but you can be sure they won’t come more than once a week. There will be no way to get [a new supply] on a daily basis.

“It will work for a short period, but this is not a solution.”

Prior to the strike, Brook said, his store sold about 400 chickens a week, which was reduced to 240 after the labour troubles began and before Empire began to ship in poultry. Marvid processed about 20,000 chickens weekly before the strike.

Because it’s a union shop, Marvid has tried to cope with its reduced production by bringing in volunteer workers, but that has not fully made up for the absence of its regular workers.

The CSN, in a claim before the provincial labour commission, characterized the volunteers as replacement workers.

Marvid’s lawyer, Joel Weitzman, told The CJN that according to his sources, he expected the commission to rule that the volunteer workers have indeed been volunteers, not strikebreakers. Marvid is also seeking an injunction in Quebec Superior Court challenging the number of picketers and their location around the plant, Weitzman said.

Brook said he hopes the strike ends soon because in his opinion, it could threaten Marvid’s survival as a business.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, a longtime critic of the Vaad’s banning of imported kosher meat, said he hopes the relaxation of the rule during the strike will become permanent.

“I hope they will finally embrace the realities of the marketplace.”

At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Oh that's right it's only people suffering.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

Can you find out about a mikva rumor i heard today that meat bought at paperific(NY) is trief ,and that paperific bought it from the kosher spot who sold trief as kosher knowingly .

At 5:57 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

More information please. I have not heard about this but will keep my ears open.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

Nah, nothing to do with people vs. animals.

It has to do with publicity.

PETA made the mainstream.

I promise that as soon as the shochet strike hits the NYTimes, some Jewish papers will pick it up. Maybe not the JTA, though, since it doesn't seem to have realized that Hebrew National is now arguably more kosher than OU glatt meat.


Post a Comment

<< Home