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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
    Cesar Chavez

    :: Wednesday, April 25, 2007 ::

    Workers have beef over beef - By BROOKES MERRITT, Edmonton Sun, Canada
    They've got a beef.

    Unionized carpenters at the Albion oilsands site near Fort McMurray are demanding a health inspection following allegations that steaks were delivered to their camp in the back of a filthy pickup truck, unrefrigerated and covered in dirt.

    The union called for a boycott yesterday after a cook claimed that 120 steaks were driven to the site on uncovered baking sheets in the open bed of a pickup truck.


    "It was disgusting. They were covered in sand and dirt and had been exposed to the dirty air up here," said Michel Marchand, a 19-year-old kitchen staffer hired only one week ago by ESS On-Site Camp Services, which runs the kitchen. He said he unloaded the bare steaks from the back of a pickup truck normally used to haul garbage.

    Marchand said the steaks would have been served yesterday if he hadn't brought the issue to the construction site's top boss, Harry Ophof of ATCO. ATCO is overseeing the construction of the Jackpine Mine Village work camp.

    Marchand approached Leonard Misener, president of the local United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America union -which employs about 60 workers at site.


    Misener took him directly to Ophof and called the Northern Lights health authority requesting an inspector investigate.

    Ophof said ESS staff admitted to driving the steaks to the Albion site from their Suncor operation, about 70 kms south.

    "They put them in plastic bags and into the back of a truck and drove them up here. They should have been brought up in a refrigerated van," Ophof said.

    ESS regional vice-president Carolyn Slade said the company would look into the matter.

    "The normal process is that we have a certified supplier who brings out products to various camps. If the proper method was not followed we'll look into why."

    Health region spokesman Gaitane Villeneuve said an inspector will investigate the complaint within the next two days.
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