USW Local 9176 stands firm + tall! Show some teacher solidarity too!
On Monday Sparky Stelmacovich + I attended the USW Local 9176 picket line outside the Crown can manufacturing plant at 51 Signet Drive Toronto [Finch W/ Hwy 400]. We arrived at 1 pm as retiree reps from the CURC [Congress of Union Retirees of Canada] alumni chapter we are organizing for OECTA TSU [Toronto Secondary Unit]; our local teachers unit.
One can say what they want about OECTA's sorry MOU solidarity track record this past year. However Sparky and I have been proud to be part of TSU. TSU has always stood on its union principles as best it can, even despite our own occasional differences. So we were happy to fly the union colours on the units behalf during our picket line visit.
The workers are in the 5th week of what they told us they expect to be a very long strike, quite possibly lasting until next spring. Industry demand for the Crown company cans, especially from the brewery [Molsons, Labatts] and soft drink [Cotts, Coke etc] giants should hopefully then put a lot of pressure on their US bosses to resume full production of cans so they can meet the demand for the beverage makers summer sales. Meanwhile Crown has a winter long stock inventory to wait the workers out.
Double time w/ paid meals + accommodations @ the nearby Marriott!
To add insult to injury, 5 scab workers have been flown in from Calgary to keep a small can line in operation for the fall harvest of corn and peas. All the other lines have been shut down by the strikers. The scabs are being paid double time and being kept, all expenses paid, at the nearby Marriott Hotel. Security has been adamantly moving along in no uncertain terms, anybody coming by the hotel to protest.
The strike began when Crown's US bosses slapped down an ultimatum in their final contract offer insisting upon 12 points that had all ready been rejected by the union from the start, along with 97 additional changes to the contract language which would effectively gut the local Canadian branch plants Collective Agreement at this unionized factory of about 160 or so workers. They reportedly scoffed when union negotiators reminded them of Ontario's labour laws, claiming these are not the law in their country and they own the plant!
The horrifying defacto US style "Right to Work for Less" strong arming continues to be ignored without any signs of apparent provincial concern. Neither the Federal nor Ontario Liberal MP or MPP both of whom have constituency offices very near by have reportedly even bothered to drop by to see what is happening. The NDP has been missing in action as well, according to the workers we talked to.
5 weeks + counting, no end in sight: it's getting cold + wet too!
TYLC asked local GTA union members to come out to join the pickets in solidarity during their monthly general meeting last week. The USW plant workers told us that we were about the 2nd protesters to help out so far. A USW mass rally should be expected, I would think, but the workers claimed so far no, not since the protest began. The picket runs 24/7 with 3 rotating shifts, for every 8 hours from 2pm. Transport trucks are delayed 15 minutes upon arrival and departure from the plant. Despite the rain and cold the workers remain alone but vigilant, as unsettling as their situation must be!
It would be great if more teachers + other unionists could put in at least an hour or so to show solidarity to help keep up the workers morale. USW Local 9176's strike cause is very daunting + potentially quite precedent setting for all of us who are concerned about respect for our Collective Agreements and Labour Rights in Ontario. The Ministry of labour certainly doesn't seem to give a damn!
As with the local West Toronto Toronto Plaza Hotel strike which I reported on last August, out of site is out of mind for the Provincial government in this high stake game of blatant disregard for worker rights. Please to contact or share my link with all our USW Local 9176 union brothers and sisters. Urge them to come out to help asap! Even an hour or two of our time can make a big difference. None of us can afford to allow such dire, totally unacceptable + unfair union busting corporate contract strategies to continue unnoticed, unaddressed and unabated in our province!
Help keep the union fire burning!