Unifor files formal letter to government over D-J Composites dispute in Gander

Local 597 chairman says union will await labour minister’s response to 

Published on July 12, 2017

Members of Unifor Local 597, employees of D-J Composites Inc. in Gander, have been locked out since December 2016 despite offering up several concessions.

©Adam Randell/TC Media

GANDER, NL – Unifor has filed a formal letter of complaint to the provincial government concerning the “union-busting” efforts by D-J Composites Inc. against its employees in Gander.

The move follows months of failed negotiations between the two sides.

According to a press release Wednesday, Unifor sent the letter to Labour Minister Gerry Byrne on Tuesday, emphasizing in it that D-J Composites has been negotiating in bad faith in an attempt to break the union.

D-J Composites formally locked out its Gander employees – members of Unifor Local 597 – in December 2016, although the labour dispute has been ongoing since the union’s collective bargaining agreement expired in March 2015.

Lana Payne, the Atlantic regional director for Unifor, said the employer has been demanding wage concessions and other proposals to undermine the union.

“From the beginning of this lockout on December 19, this employer has had one goal in mind—break the union,” said Payne. “We want the minister to understand how serious this situation is.”

Unifor has also filed two complaints with the federal government, citing the belief that D-J Composites, an American-based company, is using illegal foreign workers. The complaints were filed on June 7 and on June 16.

Unifor has yet to receive a response from the federal government.

Unifor Local 597 chairman Ignatius Oram said he was not surprised to learn that D-J Composites was bringing in workers from outside of Canada. Despite the drawn-out battle, he said union members remain steady.

“Morale is still pretty high although it’s pretty discouraging the tactics that this employer has been using,” he said.

Oram said that the union would wait for the minister’s response before making any further decisions.