Friday, March 04, 2005

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


At 1:19 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

The Marvid Kosher Chichen plant strike in Quebec, Canada enters its 6th 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? Who decry force feeding geese for foie gras? 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 or Empire (Empire technically is scab meat in this situation as they are supplying Marvid chickens while the strike lasts which are repackaged with the Marvid label) 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.

see above noted articles and earlier articles at:

New articles:

Canadian Jewish News
Feb 23, 2005, 14 Adar I, 5765
Marvid strike goes on amid ‘intense negotiations’
Staff Reporter

Management at Volailles Marvid, Quebec’s largest kosher chicken processing plant, remain tight-lipped about any progress toward settling a five-month-old labour dispute that’s cut production to a minimum.

About 90 workers at the east-end Montreal plant, all members of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), went on strike in mid-September of 2004, demanding a guaranteed, close-to-full-time work week.

Moshe Friedman, president of Marvid, did not return several phone calls from The CJN. But a spokersperson said “intense negotiations were going on” and “things looked positive.”

During the strike, the Vaad Ha’ir, the city’s main kosher certification body, loosened its ban on importing kosher poultry from outside Montreal to compensate for any city shortage.

In a reply to a CJN inquiry, the Vaad said last month that it was continuing “to allow establishments to bring in chickens from outside Montreal, provided they are from approved kosher certification.”

But Avi Brook, owner of Cote St. Luc Kosher Meat Market, said while imported chicken from the United States has made up for any shortfall, he can only put in his orders once a week and the product does not quite meet Marvid’s standards.

“I just don’t think it’s the same quality of chicken,” he said.

Like the Marvid spokesperson, Brook said he has also heard rumours the two sides are edging closer to a deal. “But so far they are just rumours.”

Murray Steinberg, the Montreal agent for Chai Poultry in Toronto, had a change of heart about bringing in fresh kosher chickens to Montreal.

Initially, Steinberg refused to import poultry – except for frozen Chai products for Costco, which is not MK-certified by the Vaad – because loosening the ban is understood to be temporary.

But he changed his mind when he saw that “the community was hurting.”

Now, Steinberg is bringing in fresh Chai chickens and turkeys for three IGAs, J & R Kosher and other establishments.

Steinberg said he has been given an oral guarantee by the Vaad that he would be allowed to continue bringing in kosher poultry from Toronto for MK establishments until the end of Passover at the beginning of May.

The union’s contract with Marvid expired in December 2003, and last Nov. 30, the strikers rejected Marvid’s initial contract offer by a 96 per cent vote.

According to the CSN’s website, the workers are seeking a 40-hour workweek, as well as more vacation time for longtime employees and an improved wage scale.

CSN representatives did not respond to The CJN’s request for comment.

Since the strike began, other issues, including picketing by strikers around the Marvid plant and the company’s use of replacement workers, have also surfaced.

For Brook, the issue facing kosher consumers is not only chicken, but also beef and veal. Montreal no longer has its own kosher slaughterers for beef and veal and must import the meat from Toronto.

“For a [Jewish] population that’s close to 100,000, this is shameful,” he said. “To have no local shchitah, it makes us look like a small shtetl.”

Canadian Jewish News
March 2, 2005, 21 Adar I, 5765
Marvid strikers turn down latest offer
Staff Reporter

By a 95 per cent margin, the 90 strikers at Volailles Marvid rejected the company’s latest contract offer, leaving the labour dispute at the city’s largest kosher poultry processing plant to drag on into a sixth month.

The Feb. 17 vote showed there is continued solidarity among the strikers, negotiator Claude Bégin of the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) told The CJN.

But Moshe Friedman, Marvid’s president, charged that the strikers turned down their own proposals at the last minute.

“They proposed something and we accepted it,” Friedman said in an interview. “Then they turned around and said no.”

Bégin attributed the failure to a continued “climate of non-confidence” between union and management.

The vote followed two weeks of intensive negotiations that both sides said came close to bearing fruit. Marvid’s first offer, rejected by a similar margin, was on Nov. 30, 2004.

Common ground was found on most ancillary issues, Bégin said, but not on the major ones of pay scale and work hours.

Friedman said the two sides were not far apart on the money issue, but did not – despite his belief that a deal was done – ultimately come to terms on the workers’ demand for a guaranteed 35-hour work week.

After so many months of labour troubles – the strike began last Sept. 13 – Friedman said he remains hopeful a deal can be reached.

Marvid, he said, has now effectively become an importer of kosher chickens from the United States – a large number of them from Empire Kosher Poultry – since the Vaad Ha’ir, Montreal’s main kosher certification body, loosened its ban on “MK” (Montreal Kosher) establishments selling non-Montreal-produced poultry.

Friedman said it’s “far, far cheaper” to import U.S. chickens than to slaughter and process poultry locally. After the chickens are brought in, he said, Marvid puts its label on them and distributes them for sale.

Friedman said a small number of chickens continue to be slaughtered locally and are processed at Marvid by “volunteers” for special orders used by the haredi community, who decline to consume kosher chickens that do not undergo local shchitah.

Bégin described the strikers as “still very, very determined. The results of the vote show it.”

Bégin also believes Marvid will not put its business at risk because it has spent “millions” of dollars over recent years upgrading and modernizing the plant.

Friedman, for his part, did not feel the strike, despite its length, was planned, but rather that it was triggered by an “internal conflict” between a plant foreman and “a few management people” that escalated into a strike.

He continues to be optimistic that the dispute will ultimately be resolved.

“I’m not the kind of guy who gets frustrated easily,” Friedman said. “I sleep well at night.”

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

OK, fine, I won't buy any Marvid Chicken. (Which isn't available where I live anyway.) Lay off the "tree-huggers," most of them are leftists who would sympathize with he workers, except they probably don't know about the incident. Insulting people is no way to attract supporters.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>OK, fine, I won't buy any Marvid
>Chicken. (Which isn't available
>where I live anyway.)

Empire is.

>Lay off the "tree-huggers," most
>of them are leftists who would
>sympathize with he workers,
>except they probably don't know
>about the incident.

1) I'm making a point about how little attention this has garnered.
2) By now you know I don't "lay off" anyone.
3) I attack the right, left an center when it should be.

>Insulting people is no way to
>attract supporters.

Who said I'm looking for supporters? I don't think my post was insulting. It's accurate unfortunately.

All the bloggers up in arms over Rubashkin have been conspicuously silent in this situation.

I've been posting on this for a month now.

At 9:47 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

It has nothing to do with bloggers.

Maybe if the Jewish Labor Committee picketed a Presidents Conference meeting.... or called for a boycott... or did something... then it might make the Jewish newspapers.

Otherwise, it's just a labor dispute.

And like good Republicans, we don't want to harbor any trade unionists, do we?

Remember: First they came for the communists. Then they came for the trade unionists.

Penultimately they came for the Jews.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

Or, you could have the AFL-CIO take out an ad in the NYTimes. Then people will notice it.

JWW, it's hard to exagerate how *little* anyone in the "Jewish community" notices anything that's not in the NYTimes.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

This site is rapidly becoming les and less useful. Show us some real scadals instead of dredging up shtus like this.

as for calling on a boycott of Empire chickens becuase they're selling chickens to Marvid, that doesn't make them a scab. I'm sure Empire isn't giving the chickens away, and I suspect Marvid isn't making as much money as they would if they killed their own chickens. If you have additional information that proves that they are giving Marvid a special deal not available to other customers, them please publish it.

Consider the following syllogism:

1) Rabbi X is a child molester
2) Rabbi X buys (and eats) Brand Y strictly kosher chicken,

Therefore, Brand Y chicken company supports child molesters and child molestation.

If you believe that, I have a nice bridge that connects lower Manhattan with Brooklyn that I'd like to sell to you...

Oh, and the Conservative movement never did "ban" Rubashkin's meat, either, by the way. (not that the Conservative laity would pay any attention to a ban by conservative rabbis.) Go to my blog, and check the actual text of the RA statement.

You don't see a big groundswell of interest in this issue becuase it's essentially a local labor dispute concerning a product with limited distribution. Rubashkin's on the other hand, is one of the largest kosher meatpackers in the world.

Oh, and at least Marvid is unionized and the workers are able to strike. Rubashkins is a totally non-unionized plant. Any workers try to give management any trouble and out they go, to be easily replaced with more cheap immigrant labor.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>This site is rapidly becoming
>les and less useful.

Sorry you feel that way.

>Show us
>some real scadals instead of
>dredging up shtus like this.

Will do, but this actually is a real scandal. I suggest you re-read the Canadian Labor decisions I referenced in the earlier post (link above).

>as for calling on a boycott of
>Empire chickens becuase they're
>selling chickens to Marvid, that
>doesn't make them a scab.

During a strike to provide goods which are re-labelled under Marvid's label? That does make them a scab.

scab ( P ) Pronunciation Key (skb) n.
A person hired to replace a striking worker.

>I'm sure Empire isn't giving the
>chickens away, and I suspect
>Marvid isn't making as much
>money as they would if they
>killed their own chickens. If
>you have additional information
>that proves that they are giving
>Marvid a special deal not
>available to other customers,
>them please publish it.

Special deal = Empire chickens re-labelled as Marvid Chicken.

Normal deal = buy Empire chicken, sell as Empire chicken.

>Oh, and the Conservative
>movement never did "ban"
>Rubashkin's meat, either, by the
>way. (not that the Conservative
>laity would pay any attention to
>a ban by conservative rabbis.)
>Go to my blog, and check the
>actual text of the RA statement.

True, and I never said they did. Elements at least discussed the ban and there were individual synagogues that did ban the use at synagogue functions but not for kashrut reasons.

>You don't see a big groundswell
>of interest in this issue
>becuase it's essentially a local
>labor dispute concerning a
>product with limited

As I said, people vs animals suffering.

>Rubashkin's on the
>other hand, is one of the
>largest kosher meatpackers in
>the world.


>Oh, and at least Marvid is
>unionized and the workers are
>able to strike. Rubashkins is a
>totally non-unionized plant. Any
>workers try to give management
>any trouble and out they go, to
>be easily replaced with more
>cheap immigrant labor.

Read the labor decisions referenced in the earlier post. It seems Marvid may be trying to break the unions and have a similar situation to Rubashkins. By the way, the staff at Rubashkins could choose to unionize, they do have that right.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Reb Yudel said...

"Could choose to unionize"?

Not in this day and age.

There was a piece in the Washington Post that I linked to circa 2002 about practices in the meat industry under the current regulatory climate. It's not a pretty picture. There's a real ever min hachai problem througout.

At 2:09 PM, Anonymous Nat in Montreal said...

Your comment on Marvid re-selling Empire Poultry (calling Empire "scabs) proves that you are a real turkey, chasing cliches. Montrealers are entitled to eat chicken, and Marvid is the only company with a good distribution network. As for violations of Quebec's labor code, it is probably the most pro-union code on the continent, so a violation of it proves very little. As you may have heard, Marvid has closed its doors.
You turkey.

At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Strike drives Marvid Poultry out of business

By David Lazarus, Staff Reporter / Canadian Jewish News / April 7, 2005

Montreal Jews and kosher butchers needing poultry for Passover are being assured that supply will meet demand after news the city’s largest supplier, Marvid Poultry, has shut down operations as a result of a 61/2-month strike.

Marvid, considered a Jewish community institution, was responsible for virtually all local kosher poultry slaughtering and processing. Its March 31 closure leaves the Montreal Jewish community without its own major kosher poultry slaughterhouse and processor.

Murray Steinberg, an agent for Chai Poultry of Toronto, told The CJN that his company will make up for any drop in local supply.

“I was reassured by [Chai owner] Chuck Weinberg… that the Montreal community will be covered completely for all its Passover needs,” Steinberg told The CJN late last week.

“If it’s not fresh, then it will be frozen,” Steinberg said. “[Weinberg] could not have been clearer about it.”

Despite the reassurances, news that Marvid, with its roots dating back to “The Main” decades ago, was closing stunned kosher butchers and consumers, who had expected the company and its employees to negotiate a new collective agreement.

“This came as a surprise,” said Avi Brook, owner of Cote St. Luc Kosher Butchers. “No one expected this.”

Marvid’s closure ended a contentious and bitter labour dispute over salaries and working conditions that dates back to last fall, just before Rosh Hashanah.

The strike began after Marvid started up a second production line that cut back employee hours. Some 90 workers affiliated with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) were seeking a guaranteed 35-hour work week and a better wage scale.

Despite intense negotiations, sometimes in fits and starts, and several union votes, the two sides remained at odds. The last vote rejecting an offer by Marvid took place shortly before owner Moishe Friedman made the closure announcement.

“Due to ongoing labour problems… Marvid Poultry regrettably has no alternative than to close its production facilities as of March 31, 2005,” Friedman stated in a terse letter to customers dated March 23.

“Marvid Poultry would like to thank all its customers for their loyalty and support during hard times.”

At writing, it remained unclear whether outside kosher chicken producers other than Chai would also be able to supply the local market.

To make up for potential shortfalls during the strike, Montreal’s kosher certification body, the Vaad Ha’ir (Jewish Community Council), loosened its ban on non-Montreal poultry being sold at MK-hechshered establishments. That opened the door for Marvid to import poultry from U.S. suppliers such as Empire Kosher Poultry and to give it a Marvid label once it got here.

But Marvid, which held the required import license, no longer exists, so it’s unclear whether U.S. poultry can still come in.

Chai, for its part, has been supplying grocery chains such as IGA, Provigo and Loblaws as well as Costco and some local kosher butchers. Its products carry the “COR” hechsher, which is acceptable to the Vaad.

Commenting on Marvid’s closure, the Vaad Ha’ir’s executive director, Rabbi Saul Emanuel, said, “It is a very sad thing when a supplier has to close business.” He added that the Vaad would “work with approved suppliers” to ensure Montreal Jews have sufficient poultry.

He stressed, however, that the Vaad’s main concern is kosher certification.

Brook described the closure of Marvid as yet another sign that “Montreal is becoming like a shtetl.”

Although he agreed that Montreal Jews will ultimately get the supply of kosher poultry they need, he anticipated higher retail prices without any local major processor.

“Except for Boisbriand [a haredi enclave], Marvid was the only place for local shchitah,” Brook said.

Brook, who until last week was selling poultry imported by Marvid, anticipated having to use Chai within the next week or two.

Claude Bégin, who negotiated on behalf of the CSN during the strike, lamented the fact the two sides could not negotiate a new collective agreement after the old one expired at the end of 2003.

“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “It’s a business decision, but a lot of effort was made towards satisfying everyone. But it couldn’t be done.”

Bégin attributed the failure to reach a deal to a “climate of distrust” that existed between the parties.

Ironically, the strike took place not long after Marvid had spent several million dollars upgrading its east-end plant.

Rabbi Reuben Poupko, who has long been critical of the Vaad for not allowing outside kosher meat to be sold at MK-supervised establishments, said he was not concerned that Montreal Jews would lose their supply of kosher poultry as a result of Marvid’s closure.

“If Chai can pick up the production, who cares?” he said. “I’m more concerned about the welfare of consumers.

“If there’s a demand, there will be a supply. The marketplace will always win. There’s enough dead chickens, don’t worry.”

Friedman did not return numerous calls for comment.


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