Fernando Campos’s story

A long career and good economic insight

One pretty indisputable economic fact is that the more higher- paid steady union jobs there are, the better the economy and the better off people are. That’s what recently retired food production worker Fernando Campos had to say, and he’s living proof of it. He’s weathered the ever-changing conditions in his industry.

Campos retired on his birthday last September from the SunRype production plant and warehouse in Kelowna where he worked as a forklift operator. Since then, he and his wife sold their home and relocated to Prince Edward Island.

“I worked for 43 years full time without any interruption,” he said. His union wages and benefits allowed him to raise a family of four children, and these standards were achieved with only two strikes and one lockout in his four decades at the facility. “Now I have retired with my Teamsters’ pension. It’s a bit tight but I do pretty good.”

But he noted that there is a new development surrounding his retirement and that of his colleagues. “We aren’t being replaced by new hires,” he said. The 125-worker plant appears to be under a gradual downsizing effort by the company. “They’re starting to bring stuff in from across the line (the U.S.). A lot of the places (processing facilities and warehouses) are non-union and people get paid pretty low. They don’t get the pensions and benefits. That’s partly why their companies sell for cheaper.”

Campos said that’s what destroys economies over time. “The less people work, the less they buy,” he said. “If people are paid less they can’t afford to buy as much and so the economy slows. That hurts everyone, but the big guys (large-scale corporate bosses) don’t get it.”

(Read more in Today’s Teamsters)