In order to create “good jobs” in the warehouse sector, workers will need to establish an industry standard with basic minimum thresholds for wages and working conditions, to prevent employers from engaging in their usual ‘divide and conquer’ or ‘race to the bottom’ strategies.
Unifor and our predecessor unions have a long history of formal “pattern bargaining,” especially in the auto industry. But unionized workers in a variety of sectors have also engaged in informal pattern bargaining, even in sectors with a fractured corporate structure and a vast array of employers. According to this approach, which requires a great deal of coordination and planning, workers in multiple locations and under a variety of collective agreements seek to establish an informal minimum bargaining standard, which is slowly improved from location to location, and from contract to contract.
This approach – especially in conjunction with bargaining – would give warehouse workers the best opportunity to confront a variety of challenges, including workload and pace of work issues, technological change and automation, the rising use of agency workers and third-party companies, the need for enhanced severance and successorship protections in the face of closures and contract flipping, and so on.