TORONTO — The 300 Canadian Union of Brewery and General Workers Local 325 members continue to picket 24/7 in front of the Molson Coors brewery here. They were locked out on Feb. 20 after rejecting the company’s contract offer.
The bosses are pushing to institute a third tier with fewer benefits, and with a starting wage only 2 Canadian dollars ($1.60) above Ontario’s minimum of CA$14 an hour. This is roughly half the top-tier wage now.
Weeks before the vote, Molson hired 60 temporary workers, telling them to vote for the contract if they wanted to keep a job, Ron Westeneerj, a millwright with 30 years seniority, told the Militant on the picket line March 13. “We explained to them, if we lose and you do keep your job, you’ll be in the third tier,” he said. “Seeing how we got a 70% vote against the contract, the company’s effort was in vain.”
“They have tiers within tiers. There are different benefits for people who started at different times. It should be the same for everyone, “ John Moreel, a millwright with 31 years seniority, said.
“They thought they could break the union,” said Kevin Galway, chief steward in the brewing department. In 2017 workers won a 46-day strike pushing back concessions demands, including a 7% wage cut.
Workers are also fighting bosses’ demands to impose a 12-hour shift operating all seven days on the can line. There would be no rotations, so the same workers would have to work weekends every week. “The younger workers would be forced into this schedule. Molson does it to avoid paying overtime on the weekends. It’s unfair,” said Moreel.
Area workers are extending support, helping the brewery workers keep up their fight. Two United Steelworkers members brought donuts and coffee to the line while this Militant worker-correspondent was there, and a group of elementary-school teachers joined the picket with their union flags. Members of Sheet Metal Workers and Roofers Local 30, workers from Ontario Power and other union members have brought their union flags and walked the line, too.
You can join the picket line, or send solidarity messages and contributions to Local 325 at 1 Carlingview Dr., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M9W 5E5.
Philippe Tessier is the Communist League’s candidate for mayor of St. Laurent in Quebec.