Profile: Manny Lacson immigrated from Pampango in The Philippines in 1975 at age 30 to Vancouver. He was an electronics technician at home but despite his college diploma and years of experience, Canadian employers refused to recognize his credentials. So he worked for 7 years in low-paying jobs before taking a job as a slaughterer at Lakeside Packers in Brooks. Much of his income went to supporting his 3 children in The Philippines, who were being raised by their mother. Lacson had been a supporter of unions at home where he experienced the cruelty of American companies that not only exploited workers but put toxic waste in the country’s rivers. So when UFCW 401 began a union drive at Lakeside, he was proud to join, particularly since he had twice been injured in his work there. He joined the bargaining team for a first contract with Lakeside, only to find that the company refused to grant any rights to the workers and their union. The union struck but was forced back by the Alberta government which established a Disputes Inquiry Board to make recommendations to the two sides. While the union supported the recommendations, Lakeside maintained its anti-union stance and refused all compromises. At the time of the interview, the second strike had begun. Lacson was angry that Lakeside intimidated workers by suggesting that their immigration status could be jeopardized by striking. But it had little impact on workers’ determination to get better wages and working conditions. Lakeside’s behaviour reminded Lacson of the American corporations in his homeland. Lacson’s hope was that by standing up for their rights, the workers could achieve the goal of “no more slavery, no more racism, no more discrimination.”
Keywords: American imperialism; Disputes Inquiry Board; Immigrant credential rejections; Immigration; Immigration credentials, rejection of; Lakeside Packers; Meatpacking; Occupational health and safety; Philippines; Slaughterers; Strikes.
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