Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Union Victory

About a year ago I wrote two posts on Richtree Market, the union-busting Toronto eatery that got the clever idea of terminating all of its unionized employees, shutting down its restaurant, located in the Eaton Centre, only to reopen later a few doors down (about 50 metres) from its original spot, much larger and still within the Eaton Centre. It rehired none of the former staff but instead offered lower-paying jobs to non-union members.

Happily, this story of corporate craftiness has a happy ending and once more reminds us of the importance and relevance of unions in fighting for and defending workers' rights.

Brought before the Ontario Labour Relations Board by the union representing the workers, the

dispute between Richtree Markets and Unite Here Local 75 hinged on the exact street address of the Eaton Centre, with the restaurant arguing the union’s collective bargaining rights didn’t apply to the new site.

Thinking they were clever, Richtree argued

that the street address on the union’s collective agreement, 220 Yonge St., did not apply to the new location, given the address of 14 Queen St. W. — which was not a physical entrance to the mall.

The restaurant's sophistry was readily apparent to the Board:

In January, labour board chair Bernard Fishbein ruled the union’s bargaining rights “should not be extinguished by a move of some 50 metres across the corridor of the mall,” especially to an address “that presently has no real existence other than on a piece of paper.”

“There is no doubt that the official municipal address of the Eaton Centre has not changed (and obviously not moved),” Fishbein wrote in the board’s decision.

Subsequently, about 140 non-unionized workers at Richtree’s Eaton Centre location ratified a new collective agreement last week.

Under the new collective agreement, the 50 employees of the old location will have the opportunity to resume working at the restaurant with their seniority intact.

A victory that is sweet to savor, and one that once more reminds us that workers' rights need to be zealously guarded and never taken for granted.


  1. Thanks for the post on this resolution.