Liberté Natural Foods

Liberté Natural Foods is a Canadian manufacturer and distributor of all natural, organic, and specialty dairy and deli foods. The current Liberté Natural Foods is a combination of three previously separate companies, Western Creamery, Liberté Brand Products, and the dairy division of Tournevent. These companies were combined under the name of Liberté Natural Foods on July 1, 2006 to better reflect the company's goal of bringing fresh food solutions to customers. Although all three companies share a common name the products are still distributed under their respective brand names. Besides these brands Liberté also distributes products for several other manufacturers, some of which are listed below.

Liberté Brand Products

Liberté originally entered the market in 1928 as a manufacturer of cream cheese and cottage cheese centered in Montreal, Quebec. In 1964 Liberté expanded its operations and moved its operations to Brossard, Quebec where they started to manufacture yogurt in addition to their original cheese products. Since then they have added another production line in Candiac, Quebec where they are able to produce a wider variety of products.

Western Creamery

Western Creamery has been providing customers with high quality cultured dairy products for over 60 years. The company consists of two locations, a manufacturing facility in Toronto, Ontario and a distribution centre in Brampton, Ontario. Western Creamery manufactures a variety of natural yogurts, cream cheese spreads, pressed cottage cheeses, and sour creams. All Western Creamery products are made from all natural ingredients and are certified kosher.

Tournevent

Laiterie Tournevent specializes in the production of milk, butter, and cheese that is manufactured from goat milk and its products are distributed all across Canada. In 1990 the production facility was expanded and modernized to allow Tournevent to develope several new products, and in 1992 the company introduced a home delivery service called "Tournevent Express".

Vendors

Besides Liberté's own brands the company also distributes products for the following companies:

- Tropicana

- Tour Eiffel

- Summerfresh Salads

- White Wave

- Yoso

- Organic Meadow

- Soya World

- Happy Planet Foods

- Rowe Farm

- Green Valley

- Béland Organic Foods

- Summersweet

- Sol Cuisine

- Arla Foods

- Mornington Dairy

- President's Choice

- Our Compliments

- And many others...

Customers

Liberté distributes its products to many smaller independent stores, but its main customers are:

- Loblaws

- A&P

- Dominion

- Y.I.G.

- Fortino's

- Sobey's

- Real Canadian Superstores

- I.G.A.

- No Frills

- Wal-Mart

- Whole Foods

- Pusateri's

- Byford Dairy

Brampton Warehouse

Liberté does not manufacture any products at its 60,000 square foot Brampton, Ontario warehouse. This is the main distribution point for all of its manufactured products, as well as its distributed products from other vendors. This location also serves as the company's head office and is home to most of the companies administration, including the human resources department, sales staff and various inventory and supply coordinators. In 2007 the company began using its own drivers to deliver products to customers on the east coast to improve customer satisfaction.

Vancouver Warehouse

In the fall of 2007 Liberté opened a small warehouse in Richmond, British Columbia. The facility is equipped to handle refrigerated, frozen, and shelf stable products including the Liberte, Western Creamery, Organic Meadow, Omega Nutrition, and Happy Planet brands in partiular.

Leadership

Martin Valiquette - General Manager

Martin Valiquette has held numerous at Liberté Natural Foods Inc over the last 14 years. He has held the positions of Large Accounts Manager, Director of Marketing, Director of Sales and Marketing, and became the General Manager in 2004.

Martin is also a member of the Conseil d'administration du Conseil des Industriels Laitiers du Quebec (CILQ) (Milk Industry Council of Quebec).

Driven by his personal conviction that environmental protection is crucial, he is convinced as an entrepreneur that sustainable practices are an opportunity for businesses. Since his appointment as General Manager, he tried to integrate as much as possible sustainable practices into the heart of Liberté's management.

Taking a "one step at a time" approach to integrating sustainable practices at Liberté, he is staying true to his beliefs and building Liberté into a major player in sustainable business and environmental protection.

Roger Dickhout - CEO

Roger Dickhout is currently President & Chief Executive Officer of Pineridge Foods Inc.Pineridge owns and operates a portfolio of rapidly expanding, customer-driven andinnovative food manufacturers operating in a high performance, decentralized andentrepreneurial culture. Pineridge’s mission is to help Canadian food companies – andrelated US companies – realize their full potential in the North American market.Founded in 2004 by Swander Pace Capital, Roynat Capital and Roger, the companyhas grown to approximately $350 million dollars in sales and 1200 employees through acombination of 5 acquisitions and double digit organic growth. It currently operates twoplatforms – dairy/natural foods including Liberte and Western Creamery brands andbakery including Oakrun Farm and Gourmet Baker brands.

Previously, as President & CEO, Roger led a turnaround of Canada Bread CompanyLtd and a consolidation of the commercial baking segment which included acquiring andintegrating regional bakers into a national platform. Prior to that Roger was a partnerwith McKinsey & Company, Inc., a global strategic management consulting firm. Therehe helped clients in Canada and around the world embark on new directions, leadorganizational change, and improve operations. Roger is a registered ProfessionalEngineer, has a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from Queen's University and a M.B.A.from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario(gold medalist). He also serves on the Board of Directors of Gennum Corporation,Investeco, and World Wildlife Fund - Canada.

Union Campaign

In October 2006 the warehouse staff at the Brampton location decided to join a trade union and sought the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 175. In the company's response to the application for certification they indicated that they thought that several field sales representatives should be included in the proposed bargaining unit. The UFCW challenged this request as, in their opinion, the sales reps do not share a common interest with the warehouse staff. On October 24, 2006 a certification vote was held and workers voted 17 to 12 in favour of the union, the ballots of the disputed field sales reps were kept separate pending the outcome of the status dispute hearings. This is a significant issue as the group of field sales reps is large enough to have a huge impact on the outcome of the vote. Hearings at the Ontario Labour Relations Board regarding the inclusion of the field sales reps were concluded on February 7, 2007 and the board agreed with the UFCW and decided not to include the sales reps. The decision was made on Friday May 4, 2007.

Union Members at the Brampton warehouse were successful in achieving a first collective agreement at a ratification meeting held on December 2, 2007. The 55-page document guarantees the wages and working conditions which the Union Negotiating Committee achieved for the members. It covers approximately 45 full-time members of the bargaining unit who work for the food distribution company. The agreement includes:

- Employees with 12 months service receive increases of 50 cents per hour, effective as of the date of ratification in Year 1, 52 cents in Year 2 and 54 cents in Year 3 while those still in the wage progression receive an immediate increase of up to $1.25 per hour.

- The Lead Hand/Warehouse position has a premium of $1.50 per hour; vacant positions are posted and filled in accordance with Article 10.06 of the collective agreement.

- Additionally, all full-time employees who are on the payroll as of the date of ratification receive a lump sum payment of $150.

- Students, who are employed from May 1 to September 1 each year, are paid $12 per hour.

- Workers with seniority are paid their base hourly rate times their number of regularly scheduled hours for Ontario’s nine statutory holidays, plus Civic holiday and a floater day.

- A part-time worker who exceeds 28 hours for 12 consecutive weeks is reclassified as full-time, unless replacing a full-time employee.

The employer also agrees to:

- Make reasonable provisions for Health & Safety including ensuring that the Safety Committee, containing a minimum of three worker representatives, meets at least once every two months to make safety recommendations and perform regular plant inspections.

- Maintain a safety boot allowance of $125 per year to all full-time employees and to part-time employees who have completed one year of service.

- Provide all regular full-time employees, who have completed their probationary period, with life insurance, AD&D, long-term disability and extended health & dental plans; workers are also entitled to as many as five sick days annually; any unused sick days are paid out at 100 percent of the employee’s regular hourly pay.

- Contribute a matching amount – up to 6 per cent of annual earnings for those with 12 years of service – for those employees who elect to join the Liberté Natural Foods Inc. Group Retirement Savings Plan.

- Provide each employee with 2 sweaters or sweatshirts and one winter coat per year.

- A “Sunset” clause removing written discipline warnings from the employee’s record after 18 months if no additional warning is received during that time. Members also have the right to review their personnel records and may file a grievance if they object to material contained in the file. They also have the right to have a steward present at disciplinary meetings.

- Ensure that bargaining unit work is only performed by employees who are members of the bargaining unit, except in specified situations, such as emergencies.

- Not contract out bargaining unit work, if it would cause a layoff or reduction in the hours of full-time workers.

- Continue its present practice related to the Christmas bonus and also contribute a lump sum of $1,000 annually to the Locals 175 & 633 Training & Education Fund.

- The Union appointing two stewards who are permitted the necessary time during standard working hours, without loss of pay, to perform functions related to grievance & arbitration procedures, which are detailed in the new contract.

- The election or appointment of up to two members for the Union Negotiating Committee, which will be paid their hourly rate for eight hours on each day spent in negotiations, up to and including conciliation and mediation.

The contract also includes language related to hours or work, overtime, vacations, seniority, job vacancy postings, layoff & recall rights, leaves of absence and bereavement leave.

Sources

[http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/report_card/rc_archive-conv.html Ontario Ministry Of Labour - Employment Standards Act - Prosecution & Convictions (Scroll down to September of 2006)]

[http://www.canlii.org/eliisa/courtSearch.do?allQuery=liberte+natural+foods&phraseQuery=&anyQuery=&withoutQuery=&citationOrDocketNumberQuery=&booleanQuery=&date=&dateStart=&dateEnd=&context=inFullText&requestOrigin=requestCourt&thisCollection=%2Fon%2Fcas%2Fonlrb&scopeRestriction=%2Fon%2Fcas%2Fonlrb%2F&language=en&Search=Search Ontario Labour Relations Board decisions related to the union campaign]

[http://www.ufcw175.com/News/Archives/2007/12Dec/index.shtml UFCW Local 175 News]

[http://liberte.qc.ca/en/ Liberté Brand Products]

[http://www.libertenaturalfoods.com/ Liberté Natural Foods]

[http://westerncreamery.com/ Western Creamery]

[http://www.chevre-tournevent.qc.ca/ Tournevent]


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