First Published: New Canada, Vol 5, No 4, Oct 1974
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Toronto: On Sept. 9, Joe Mitrovic was rehired by Canron Ltd. (Eastern Structural Division, Rexdale) after the Canadian Workers Union told the company that his rehiring would be a pre-condition of signing the next contract negotiated at the plant. The CWU reprinted their letter to the company and distributed it to all the plant workers.
Joe Mitrovic was fired on Tuesday August 9 because he refused a harshly-given order to clean up a work area just before quitting time. The order was given by an inexperienced foreman who is disliked by all the workers for his pushy, bad-tempered behaviour.
The next day, Wednesday, Mitrovic returned to the plant to meet with the manager. The Ironworkers agreed with management that the firing should be rescinded and he was suspended until Friday.
On Thursday, Canron officials from the U.S. would be visiting the plant, and the management didn’t want to risk a walkout over the firing. The next day, Friday, when Mitrovic returned from the suspension, he was fired.
The U.S. union in the plant, the “Ironworkers” went through the motions of fighting his case. The plant manager left on two weeks vacation, not even bothering to respond to the grievance and the Ironworkers business rep was relieved to have an excuse to drop the whole matter.
The Canadian Workers Union sent a letter to the company, which said, in part: “A vast majority of the employees of Canron are members of our union. We therefore feel that despite the fact that your company has a binding agreement with Local 743 Ironworkers, we have the obligation to intercede on behalf of one Of our members, Josip Mitrovic ... We have undertaken an independent investigation ... and find Mr. Mitrovic, a man with four years seniority, had a verbal exchange with Mr. Martin, the general foreman of the night shift (with one and one-half months experience). We find that Mr. Martin has over-reacted, probably due to his inexperience in his new position.
We therefore expect Mr. Mitrovic be re-instated with full pay for lost time. ... If Mr. Mitrovic is not reinstated with full pay at the time your company and our union negotiate the first contact after May 1, 1975, we will make the re-hiring of Mr. Mitrovic a pre-condition of signing such future collective agreement.”
The day after the plant manager retuned from vacation, the company had a meeting and decided to re-instate Joe Mitrovic. Joe is now back at work and has received most of the lost pay owing to him.
The Canadian Workers Union has forced the Canron management to acknowledge that it is the real union in the plant. The Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada and other independent Canadian unions have done the same thing many times in plants where they were not yet “legally” certified. The “legal unions” – the Yankee unions – like the Steelworkers, the International Woodworkers of America, the International Union of Operating Engineers etc. have all been kicked out of plant after plant in the last few years – the Ironworkers is next!