Steelworkers Ramp Up Campaign Against Crown Holdings in Toronto, Worldwide

Striking Toronto Employees Focus Protests on Corporate CEOs, Directors

TORONTO, Dec. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - Corporate CEOs and directors are becoming major protest targets of Toronto workers forced on strike three months ago by manufacturing giant Crown Holdings.

U.S.-based Crown Holdings forced 120 Toronto employees, members of the United Steelworkers (USW), on strike on Sept. 6. Despite huge profits, Crown is demanding major concessions from its Toronto employees, including a two-tier wage structure that would see new employees endure wages cuts of up to 42 per cent.

"Despite the hardship inflicted upon them, especially during this holiday season, our members are standing strong against a brutal assault by this U.S.-based multinational," said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director.

Crown Holdings is one of the world's largest manufacturers of food and beverage containers. Crown's striking Toronto employees, with support from unions in several countries, are escalating their campaign demanding fair treatment from their employer.

The Toronto employees and their supporters have begun to demonstrate at the homes and corporate offices of members of Crown's board of directors, who include executives from several other American and multinational corporations.

"We hold all Crown board members responsible for the strike," said Lawrence Hay, a USW Staff Representative.

"Several of these directors are retired, wealthy corporate executives. So we are visiting their multimillion-dollar homes and letting their neighbours know about the sheer greed of these people.

"We plan to be a regular presence in these neighborhoods until the attack on working families stops and this labour dispute is over."

The striking Toronto employees and their supporters have staged multiple demonstrations against Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and his cruise company. Donald is a key member of the Crown Holdings board.

Other Crown directors and their corporations linked to the Toronto labour dispute include PPL Corporation of Allentown, Penn., and its former CEO, as well as United Rentals in Stamford, Conn., whose chairman Jenne Britell serves on the Crown board. 

The striking Toronto workers also have been picketing regularly at the Crown Holdings headquarters in Philadelphia. Picketing also has spread to some of Crown's major customers, including Molson-Coors, Labatt and Cott.

"These working families in Toronto are getting support from many countries where Crown operates, because this labour dispute has global significance," Hay said.

"Crown operates 140 plants around the world and we believe the company's strategy is to slash wages and try to weaken the union in Toronto – one of its top-producing plants – to send a message to its employees around the world," he said.

"This is particularly despicable because union members throughout North America saved this company by accepting concessions during hard times. Now the company is demanding more cuts at a time of peak performance."

For more information on the USW's Take-Backs No More Campaign, see www.usw.ca/crownholdings.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca; Lawrence Hay, USW Staff Representative, 416-807-8792, lhay@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca