Seven Months on Picket Line, Toronto Workers Vote 117-1 Against U.S. Company's Contract Offer

TORONTO, March 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Despite seven inhospitable months on a picket line, a group of Toronto workers has voted 117-1 against American manufacturing giant Crown Holdings' attacks on their living standards.

The members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9176 were forced to vote today on a contract offer from U.S.-based Crown, one of the world's largest manufacturers of food and beverage containers. Crown demanded the contract vote under terms of Ontario labour law.

"This level of solidarity from workers, after a brutal winter and such a long period on the picket line, is virtually unprecedented in my experience," said USW representative Lawrence Hay.

"After seven months on the picket line, this company thought they had starved us out," said USW Local 9176 President Ken Hetherton.

"They thought they could impose a contract that would give away many of our jobs and destroy our union that we have fought so hard to maintain," Hetherton said.

Crown's Toronto employees, who helped the company achieve huge profits, received a corporate award last year for their productivity, efficiency and safety record.

However, Crown provoked a strike at its Toronto factory last September by demanding major concessions from employees, including a two-tier wage plan that would permanently cut younger workers' wages by up to 42%.

More recently, Crown made progressively worse contract offers to prolong the dispute, the USW believes.

"Today's vote sends a clear message that Crown must return to the bargaining table with a fair proposal to resolve this strike, in the interests of their employees, their customers and shareholders, or risk losing their business in the Ontario and Quebec markets," said Hay.

"The Ontario government must also step up to help resolve this dispute and stop this American multinational from treating Ontario workers like cannon fodder."

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-6009, 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