Controversial process unionizes a Canadian chain restaurant

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A KFC-Taco Bell combo unit in Canada has been unionized by a U.S.-affiliated group that credits a voting process operators are vigorously opposing on the American side of border because of fears it will ease the organizing process.

The Manitoba restaurant’s 28 employees are now represented by the Canadian arm of Workers United, a union that says it represents 140,000 in the United States and other North American areas outside of Canada.

Under the voting process used at the restaurant, all employees automatically became members of the union because at least 65%--19 employees—signed a card to become members, a process known as card check.

"This demonstrates just how important card-check certification is to ensure workers have a collective voice at work in order to improve their working conditions,” said Barrie Fowlie, director of Workers United Canada Council.

Labor advocates have repeatedly proposed that the United States adopt the card check process as the standard means of deciding if a business’ workforce should be represented by a union. Right now, a yea or nay on unionization is put to a secret ballot. Under the variously card check proposals that have been floated, if a majority of employees sign the union cards the whole staff is automatically enrolled, entitling them to representation in negotiations with management.

A switch to the card check process was proposed in Congress in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Right now, the results of a card check recruitment drive is only binding if the employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union as the bargaining agent for employees, or if the National Labor Relations Board directs the employer to recognize the union because of labor violations.

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