By COLLIN GALLANT on February 3, 2024.
One of Canada’s largest unions has applied to represent workers at the Cancarb production plant in Medicine Hat.
Peter Donnelly, the company’s president, confirmed to the News on Friday that he received notice this week that Unifor Local No. 4050 had applied with the Alberta Labour Relations Board to certify the plant in Brier Park Industrial estates.
“It’s new to us,” said Donnelly, whose company celebrated its 50th year in operation last year and has a total workforce of about 90 employees.
“We respect the right of our employees to consider joining a union. There’s an established process and we’ll follow it.”
Cancarb, which produces carbon black for use in tire rubber and other manufacturing materials, is a subsidiary of Japanese firm Tokai Carbon, which completed a major production and warehouse expansion in 2021.
That company purchased the local operation in 2014, which has since acquired three others in the U.S. Two of those operations are unionized workplaces, said Donnelly.
Justin Gniposki, the national director of organizing for Unifor, told the News he believes the bargaining unit would consist of “about 50” non-management employees.
“Like most people they’re looking for fairness in the workplace and at their economic conditions,” said Gniposki. “They’re looking to the union to secure them better terms of employment.
“We believe we have enough support and we’ll give them the democratic right to have a vote on it.”
The ALRB has scheduled an administrative hearing for Feb. 13 to evaluate the application and potentially schedule a secret ballot vote, as is required under Alberta labour regulations.
Unifor has about 315,000 members across Canada.
It also represents workers in a variety of industries in southern Alberta, including delivery drivers in Medicine Hat and at some southern Alberta natural gas processing plants owned by Canlin Energy.
In terms of industrial workplaces in the region, Unifor also represents 50 workers at the Plains Midstream straddle plant at Empress, though through a different local.