Habitat for Humanity and the union representing employees at the former ReStore locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack have reached a settlement. (Abbotsford News file photo)

Habitat for Humanity reaches settlement with union

Laid-off workers in Abbotsford and Chilliwack to receive severance payments

  • May. 29, 2018 4:48 p.m.

Habitat for Humanity Upper Fraser Valley has reached a settlement with former employees represented by the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC).

CLAC provincial representative Jeff Willson said the two sides met at the Labour Relations Board (LRB) on Monday, resulting in a settlement that includes severance payments “substantially greater than those required by law.”

He said specific terms of the agreement remain confidential, but the parties are pleased with the outcome.

“We have been able to represent the interests of the affected employees and have ensured they are fairly compensated,” Wilson said.

“This is a dedicated group of people who are passionate about the charitable work performed by Habitat for Humanity. We continue to represent their interests by helping them secure new employment.”

CLAC local 501 filed an “unfair labour practice” complaint on May 18 with the LRB on behalf of 17 workers who lost their jobs when the Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations in Abbotsford and Chilliwack closed on May 12.

The stores were shut down after Habitat for Humanity Canada – which builds homes in partnership with families in need – terminated the membership of the Upper Fraser Valley (UFV) affiliate, saying the branch had “overextended itself” financially.

Wilson previously said that, prior to the closure, employees had approached the union with concerns about workplace culture and poor treatment.

He said the LRB complaint was filed to bring all the issues to light regarding the closure of the affiliate and the best way to protect the workers.

Wilson said Habitat for Humanity has since shared information with the union arising from the continuing investigation into financial irregularities that led to the closure of the business.

David Morris, who was appointed acting CEO of the local branch, has previously stated that the affiliate had racked up at least $500,000 in debt, had exhausted its lines of credit, and had a “disturbing pattern of activity” that included a senior manager “making the unauthorized purchase of an expensive vehicle that was then portrayed as personal property.”

He said police have been informed, and a forensic audit of the financial records will be undertaken.

Morris said Habitat had pledged to “make the best of an undeniably troubling situation” for staff, and they had difficulty understanding why CLAC filed its complaint against “a cooperative and responsible employer.”

But they are pleased with the results of this week’s hearing.

“The settlement mutually agreed to (Monday) recognizes and appropriately compensates those most adversely affected by a shutdown,” Morris said.

Wilson said in the event Habitat for Humanity opens retail operations in the Upper Fraser Valley in the future, CLAC will continue to have bargaining rights with them.

The UFV affiliate was based in Abbotsford, but also covered Chilliwack, Mission and Hope.

Just Posted

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from May 26 to June 2

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Chilliwack school district estimates costs of tampons, pads at $22,500 annually

Free menstrual products to be provided in washrooms and medical rooms by end of 2019

Police find loaded rifle in car of ‘prolific offender’ prohibited from driving

Tyler Houle of Abbotsford arrested Wednesday in Chilliwack

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read