Unifor is re-inventing how to run a picket line and get employers back to the bargaining table when scabs are used to prolong strikes and lockouts.
“As a result of our sisters and brothers coming from across the country to help shut down these workplaces down, we forced employers back to the table in both Goderich and Port Arthur,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
“This is the new normal and this is how we deal with scabs going forward,” said Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to the President.
Last month members of Local 16-O in Goderich taught Canada’s labour movement a lesson on how to deal with scabs.
They barricaded the mine for 12 days and when the last scabs were marched out of the workplace by union members and Dias, no replacement workers ever got back in.
“To stand shoulder to shoulder next to our National President and walk those scabs off this property was the proudest day of my life,” said Gary Lynch, President of Local 116-O, holding back tears.
The employer tried to get scabs into the mine using a canoe called the SS DIAZ, incorrectly spelling Unifor’s president’s name.
Eventually, 10 days after the scabs left a new collective agreement was in place. Members of local 16-O presented Dias with a new canoe with his name spelled correctly, as a symbol of Unifor’s resolve to stop scabs at all workplaces.
Many members openly wept during the surprise presentation which came just after other recent striking workers were recognized.
Members of Local 229 presented Dias with a piece of chain from a fence that surrounded the Port Arthur Health Centre last week. Unifor members from across Canada helped 65 women shut down the clinic, until the doctors who owned it returned to the table. Their new collective agreement was signed Wednesday, August 15, 2018.
“We shut them down, we’re making history here,” said Gina Nuttal, Local 229 member, in a video played at Canadian Council that left many members present in tears.
“Gander is next,” said Dias, vowing the union is preparing to escalate the campaign to get the dispute at D-J Composites resolved.
Thirty members of Local 597 in Gander were locked out by their American employer 608 days ago.
Members who are on strike and locked-out received multiple standing ovations at the council with 1,400 people in attendance.
“We appreciate the support because the stress that this has put on members is unbelievable,” said Iggy Oram, Local 597 Chair.
“We’re not giving in! One day longer, one day stronger!” said locked-out Local 597 member Denise Cokes in the video.
Eighty-five members of Local 6000 in Montreal were also recognized. They have been on strike at Old Castle since July 6, 2018.
Véronique Figliuzzi, President of Local 6000, praised the strength of striking members, and laid down a warning, saying “Old Castle, Unifor is coming for you!”
Despite anti-scab legislation in Quebec, the employer has hired scabs. They work in intense heat, transforming glass to finished products for the construction industry and Unifor has a detailed plan to pressure the employer to go back to the table.