Having been burned once and one of the reasons why I made this website, here are some tips you can use to make sure you get paid for your hard work.
Do your research
You can use our database to research a company before you decide to work for them, or read some forums like replant.ca. The more treeplanters use such forums or reviews, either to help them decide whether they will work for a particular company or leave reviews after working for them, the greater the likelihood that the industry will improve. Because it is such a hard job, physically, it tends to have a higher turnover, exploiting the young bodies of university students before the next, uninformed wave comes along. By informing the next newbies about the practices of the companies you have worked for, you can put pressure on the companies to improve their treatment of tree planters. After all, they’re not the ones putting the trees into the ground but you are. If the bad apples will be boycotted, they will quickly be driven out of business and the rest will be motivated to do a better job.
Log your records
When there is a problem with payment, you can go to the Labour Board. But why wait until there are problems? Call them up beforehand and get some tips from them. At the end of each day or week, you can ask the foreman or supervisor to sign your tree counts. Find out from the Labour Board the best way to go about this, to make it like a legal contract. Without such records the company could easily dispute the number of trees, for which you would only have your own testimony to back you. And once a forester has checked the trees, you can ask for a second signature testifying that the trees are okay and shouldn’t be subject to a fine. It can take weeks or months before you receive your last paycheck after the season is over, at which point you might be back in university with little time to chase after them. With these records, your job will be much easier.
If all else fails, get nasty
I once worked for an operation with a very weak crew. I planted at least double everyone else, even if I retired early. The price was very low and the temperature hot. They drove their crew like battered lambs, plodding amongst the slash like dehydrated, exhausted slaves. The foreman was pissed off that I could put in such high numbers yet take naps in the truck or on the block when it got too hot. When time came around to issue me the final check, I got the runaround. Always some “janitor” seemed to pick up the phone who claimed he ‘don’t know nothing about anything’. Finally I told this janitor, in a stern voice, that he should pass this message onto the management. “If I don’t get paid for my hard work, next planting season you can expect to find sugar in your gas tanks and/or your tires slashed. I will find out where you will be operating.” Immediately he handed me the phone to the owner, and when I repeated the same, he replied, “You are precisely what we are afraid of in this industry.” The next day the check was in the mail.
Just think about it. These companies bid on contracts. If they are too slow and finish late, not only are there often big fines, but they show up late for their next contract and it can cause all sorts of problems. Not to mention the cost of replacing tires, possibly an entire engine, lost revenues due to downtime, and pissed off planters who cannot go to work and might even quit. It would be an extreme problem for the company. Just mentioning this with a serious voice can do wonders. Don’t take shit from anybody wo/man!