September 17, 2014 / 7:07 PM / 6 years ago

FedEx warehouse workers in Canada join union in N. America first

VANCOUVER, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Workers at a FedEx Corp warehouse in western Canada have successfully unionized, the first employees besides pilots at the package delivery company to organize in North America, a local Teamsters union said on Wednesday.

The majority of dock associates at FedEx Freight Canada in Surrey, British Columbia, signed cards with the Teamsters stating they wish to be represented by the union. The Teamsters already represent Canadian workers at rival shippers United Parcel Service Inc and Purolator, a Canadian courier majority owned by Canadian Post Corp.

The Teamsters were certified by the Canada Industrial Relations Board on Monday, the union said.

A spokesman for FedEx Canada was not immediately available for comment.

The 14 laborers, who load and unload trucks, are the first FedEx ground workers to unionize in North America, joining the parcel shipper’s U.S.-based pilots, who are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association. The union touted the victory as an organizing inroad into the Memphis-based company.

FedEx on Wednesday forecast a record holiday season due to the continued rise of online consumer sales and said it would add more than 50,000 seasonal workers to handle the anticipated spike in shipping.

“FedEx is the largest non-union company in North America,” said Stan Hennessy, president of Teamsters Local 31. “With this small success up here in B.C, this will encourage more warehousemen and truck drivers throughout Canada and the U.S. to certify with the union.”

Hennessy said the FedEx workers unionized because of issues with work hours, wages and benefits, which the group will look to address in a first contract. Negotiations could get underway within the next 30 days.

The Teamsters local represents roughly 7,000 private and public sector employees in British Columbia and the Yukon territory. (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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