Solidarity Appeal

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 fired, 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@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@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).

Please write letters, call, whatever you feel is appropriate in this situation. If you’ve a site, please repost this call to spread the word.

(forwarded to me by Brishen)