Regular readers may remember that I wrote about the unscrupulous people at Crown Holdings earlier this year. I’ve been keeping up with this story and the situation continues to get worse and worse.
United Steelworkers Union 9176 has been on strike for 18 months now. Their employers have negotiated in bad faith from the start, and they have continued to make things difficult for these workers – the same workers that were recognized as being the most productive in North America only a year before the strike began.
How’s that for loyalty?
Most of you know that I love good beer. I drink plenty of it. I’ve stopped buying anything sold in Crown cans.
How do you know if a can is a Crown can?
As of right now, there are many breweries and soft-drink manufacturers in Canada that use Crown cans for their products. I could list them all, but I’d rather list the ones who don’t and give them the advertising. Muskoka, Lake of Bays, Mill Street, and Side Launch make a variety of beers – one for every possible taste – and they’ve been getting a lot of my business.
And anything in bottles is fair game.
It’s not a lot to ask, and I hope you’ll consider participating in this boycott for an important cause.
On Saturday, I went to the Crown plant in Toronto to participate in a solidarity picket that was organized by the Peel branch of ETFO. A number of people from three different unions came out, and I was happy and proud to participate in a good cause. Working people need to stick together.
As many of you know, my father was a steelworker, my uncle was a steelworker, and I was a steelworker, so my loyalty to this particular cause runs fairly deep.
My mother was a member of UFCW.
It’s fortunate that both of my parents were union members.
They’re retired now, living on decent pensions, and they were able to provide an excellent quality of life for my brother and I because, in large part, their unions enabled them to. We’re all thankful for this, and I’d badly repay the labour movement if I didn’t take these fights seriously.
The world is heading down a dangerous path. Corporations and governments seem to have more control than they ever have. Labour unions are the only thing standing between them and the middle class.
So it’s not surprising that as union membership has declined, so has the middle class.
The folks at USW 9176 have been through a lot, and there are sad tales to tell. These workers walk the picket line for over twenty hours a week and many of them work other jobs in order to support their families while they’re waiting for a new collective agreement. This has been incredibly difficult for all of them. As you can imagine, morale isn’t skyrocketing, and there’s very little hope for a new fair deal.
Yet still they walk in the cold and wait and pray for something to change.
And, as if things weren’t bad enough for these workers, this also happened to one of them.
You can read more about that tragic tale here, but you might not want to. If you’re like me, it’s just too horrible to imagine.
In any case, I was out there with the USW workers for two hours on Saturday – dressed as warmly as I could, and on a comparatively warm day by this winter’s standards – and let me tell you, pulling consecutive eight hour shifts out there is not something anyone would enjoy.
But that’s what these guys do.
They were happy to have the support of other unions on Saturday, and I was definitely happy to be there with them.
When it comes to this strike, there isn’t much else to be happy about.