Solidarity Appeal: BC Union Activist Fired for promoting safety

Tony Tracy tony at tao.ca
Thu Sep 5 12:28:10 MDT 2002


The following Solidarity Appeal on behalf of Mike Palecek was forwarded by
Alex Grant in Vancouver.

Mike is a young worker, involved in the labour movement and in the Young
New Democrats in BC -- Mike has been fired for union activity, and the
campaign to re-instate him needs as many endorsements and protest letters
as possible (cash is needed also to run the campaign and keep Mike and his
wife Miriam, who is also politically active in BC, from starving & to
assist them with paying their rent in early October if there has been no
positive resolution by that time -- as Mike has been fired, rather than
"laid off", it is likely that he would not qualify for Employment
Insurance benefits).

Please forward this appeal to union contacts and others.

- Tony Tracy

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 4 Sep 2002 20:15:22 -0700
From: Alex Grant <alex at newyouth.com>
To: Tony Tracy <tony at tao.ca>
Subject: Solidarity Appeal: BC Union Activist Fired for promoting safety!

Solidarity Appeal:  Canadian Union Activist Fired for promoting safety!

On Saturday, August 31st Mike Palecek was fired from the Western Grocers
(Superstore) Warehouse in Vancouver, British Columbia.  This warehouse
supplies the entire Superstore chain of supermarkets in BC.  The 500+
workers at the warehouse are represented by the United Food and Commercial
Workers local 247.  Mike was called into the office to speak with the
manager where he was sacked, then "escorted" to the door.  He was
organizing a safety campaign along with several other workers; this was
the motivation behind his dismissal.  The company's official excuse:
"low productivity".

The workers in the warehouse are subjected to inhuman conditions.  In
fact, workers in the Western Grocers warehouse are twenty-two times more
likely than the provincial warehouse average to be injured on the job.
In the month of July 2002, there were 79 injuries that required first aid.
This is all a result of a system the bosses call DCAM.  This is a timing
system where every worker is timed for every job they do, then given a
percentage corresponding to the amount of time set for the job.  Workers
are treated like machines; even going to the washroom is added to your
time.  The problem is that it is nearly impossible for a worker to get
100% while working safely.  The work typically consists of moving stock
around using motorized carts or forklifts - workers are forced to speed
across 4-way intersections at full speed and are not given the time to
lift properly.  As a result there were seventeen back injuries in the
month of July.  Objects and even entire pallets fall from heights of over
50ft.  If workers do not keep their percentages consistently above 95%,
they are fired.  They are forced to break every safety rule in the book.
Several workers are currently organizing a safety campaign; Mike Palecek
was one of the main organizers.

The only exception to the timing system is what's called a delay.  If
something beyond the control of the worker slows him down, then a delay is
recorded and that time does not affect his percentage.  The bosses stopped
recording Mike's delays, making it appear as though his percentage was
much lower than it actually was.  This was the excuse used to fire him.

This is an attack on the basic right of workers to organize and operate a
union and a slap in the face to all those who are fighting for a safer
workplace.  Workers must be able to go home without their families
worrying about major injuries and even lost lives.  This campaign is a
very graphic expression of how "an injury to one is an injury to all".

§ Reinstate Mike Palecek!

§ End the demeaning and unsafe DCAM system!

§ Protect workers' rights to safety and union organization!

Messages of protest and solidarity are vital for this campaign's success.

Please send messages of protest to customer_service at weston.ca and/or mail
Western Grocers, 350 Se Marine Dr, Vancouver, BC V5P 1P1

To send messages of solidarity (and copies of protest letters) write to
dcam_sucks at hotmail.com and/or UFCW local 247, 3012 Boundary Road, Burnaby,
BC, Canada V5M 2A1

Donations to run the campaign and/or help Mike's family buy groceries can be
mailed to: Down With DCAM, Suite 540 - 1917 W. 4th Ave. Vancouver, BC,
Canada, V6J 1M7 (Payable to Mike Palecek/UFCW Local 247).






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