Location: Red Deer
Profile: Oscar Lopez was a carpenter in El Salvador, married with 3 children, when he chose to come to Canada on his own in 2007 as a temporary foreign worker. He could not make a sufficient living to support his family in El Salvador, and hoped that he would be able eventually to bring his family to Canada. In his view, the violence and corruption in his home country, often related to American-controlled gangs, made life unbearable. Corporations exploited workers and bought off many union leaders, while murdering incorruptible union leaders and activists.
Lopez was hired to work in Red Deer at Travelaire, a trailer manufacturer. As the company shuttered in Red Deer, it arranged for new placements of the workers, with Lopez being transferred to Olymel, a meatpacking company. The company offered English language classes to its foreign-born employees. Lopez became active in UFCW Local 1118, which he credits with familiarizing the workers regarding their rights and obligations under Canadian law. He agreed to serve as a representative of the local whose role was to persuade supervisors not to impose penalties on workers who failed to follow instructions because of language issues.
Keywords: Language issues in workplaces; Olymel; Safety training in Meatpacking; Salvadorean immigrants;Temporary Foreign Workers; Translators; Travelaire; UFCW, Local 1118.
Transcript: Download PDF
Oscar Lopez appears in the videos: Temporary Foreign Workers