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Rally at Regina refinery sends strong message to Co-op to bargain a fair deal

December 6, 2019 - 12:00 AM

December 6, 2019

REGINA—Hundreds of supporters, union members, and local residents joined a solidarity rally with the 800 members of Unifor Local 594 locked out by Co-op Refinery.

"Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) and Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) has no idea who they are dealing with. Everyone at the rally today plus our 315,000 members across the country are standing in solidarity to get respect for these highly skilled workers who keep this plant safe and profitable," said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator and Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President.

Hundreds chanted "Keep Regina safe, come negotiate!" and "594, let them in the door!" against the backdrop of the refinery, now being operated by a much smaller group of underqualified replacement workers.

“This show of solidarity is exactly what our members needed as we start shifts on the picket lines,“ said Kevin Bittman, President of Unifor Local 594 representing the locked out workers. “We are solid and ready for this fight. We are proud to make the company $3 million a day, but are never going to let them gut our pensions.”

CRC gave lockout notice Tuesday after a mandatory 14-day cooling off period ended without a fair offer from the company. Negotiations had hit an impasse when Co-op demanded concessions on the very pension plan it promised workers during the last round of bargaining. Unifor Local 594 is firm on not taking concessions on pension choice and protection for members while FCL enjoys year after year of record profits.

Rally supporters expressed concern over CRC’s use of replacement workers that put plant and community safety at risk.

“Refinery customers don’t deserve this disruption to their service, and the local community sure doesn’t deserve to have the B-team running this complicated facility,” added Bittman.

Unifor ran a commercial during last month’s Grey Cup game and undertook a marketing blitz during Agribition to urge Co-op to return to the table with a fair deal. The union says it will continue to counter the employer’s misinformation campaign with its own comprehensive multi-media campaign.

Media are welcome to unrestricted use of photos from Unifor’s Facebook page or Twitter.

For media inquiries please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at Ian.Boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).