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Mr. Furnace serves lockout notice to workers during pandemic

April 30, 2020 - 3:00 AM

May 1, 2020

ST. CATHARINES—Members of Unifor Local 1999 working at Mr. Furnace have been served notice that they could be locked out of their jobs on Monday, in the midst of a public health and economic crisis.

“It’s a new low for labour relations to see an employer issue this notice during a pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “COVID-19 is already responsible for hundreds of thousands of layoffs. Locking out workers that still have their jobs is an especially heartless move right now.”

Mr. Furnace, a subsidiary of Right Time Heating and Air Conditioning Canada, has been bullying workers since bargaining began says Unifor. The employer filed for conciliation before a single bargaining meeting had taken place. The bargaining offers from the company attempt to re-write virtually every clause of the collective agreement by erasing seniority and established wage structures.

Unifor points to new Chief Operating Officer Craig Goettler as a major source of unprecedented friction between management and workers. Before his arrival, labour relations at the company was respectful and productive.

“Craig Goettler is using the pandemic to try to break the union,” said James Tauvette, president of Unifor Local 1999. “Before bargaining even started, the company was overturning seniority rights and contracting out. Goettler was spoiling for a fight and had no interest in good-faith bargaining.”

Unifor points to the 13 outstanding grievances for a company of 19 workers as an example of the company’s disrespectful behaviour. 

“The way a company treats their workers tells you a lot about the values of the owners,” added Dias. “Mr. Furnace customers should consider other providers if this is going to be a pattern at Mr. Furnace and Right Time Heating and Air Conditioning.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).