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Group of Ontario drivers protesting 'mass termination' from U.S.-Canada delivery company months after forming union

Former GoBolt Drivers can be seen protesting above. (GoBolt Drivers Union) Former GoBolt Drivers can be seen protesting above. (GoBolt Drivers Union)
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For nearly two weeks, a group of more than 20 former delivery drivers have been protesting what they call a “mass termination,” executed by their employer just months after the workers had certified with a local union.

Dan O’Hara worked at GoBolt, a U.S.-Canadian delivery service, for a little over a year when he was terminated on Sept. 28 alongside 22 of his colleagues.

The terminations come after the group of workers voted to unionize in June and amid the process of bargaining their first collective agreement. While there is nothing to indicate direct causation between the group's organizing efforts and their termination, they say the timing has left them deflated, and with more questions than answers.

“It was all 23 of us, all the drivers, so I would say a mass termination,” O’Hara said in an interview with CTV News Toronto Wednesday.

A former GoBolt worker protests the dismissal of 23 Ontario drivers. (GoBolt Drivers Union)

The drivers were all based out of a warehouse in Markham, Ont., located on Woodbine Avenue and Elgin Mills Road East, and were responsible for providing last-mile delivery services in the Greater Toronto Area using a fleet of electric vehicles.

In June, the group of workers had voted 26-2 to certify with Teamsters Local 938, a union representing more than 10,000 workers across hundreds of industries in Ontario. They were in the process of bargaining their first collective agreement when they were terminated.

GoBolt says that the workers’ dismissal had nothing to do with labour relations. In an update shared to its website, GoBolt referred to the claims as “unfounded rumors."

When reached for comment, the company said it had “recently made changes to reflect the evolving needs of [the] business” and, as such, is transitioning to a fleet operator model, in which delivery services are contracted to additional companies. The move will aim to deliver quality service while allowing for more “flexibility, scale, volume and sustainability,” the company said in a statement.

The workers, however, have taken issue with the circumstances surrounding their termination. For two weeks now they have been protesting outside the warehouse, calling on the company to reverse its decision, with little direct communication in return, they said.

"We felt like we were taking steps in the right direction towards an agreement," Lemoy White, another former driver, told CTV News Toronto, calling the last two weeks "a rollercoaster of emotions."

White said the firing has been particularly distressing as he has an eight-month-old baby at home to care for.

“We have bills to pay and responsibilities to take care of,” he said. At the very least, White said he thinks GoBolt could have handled the situation with more support.

“I could have been given a better opportunity to better prepare for losing my job, but that wasn’t GoBolt’s priority," he said.

Despite the uncertainty, the group is remaining focused and in solidarity, O'Hara said.

“Everybody's worried about their futures, but you know, we want our jobs back, right? That's what we're fighting for right now and that's the message that we're trying to get out there.”

The workers say they will continue to protest until GoBolt offers them their positions back. 

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