U.S. Company Wants to Discard 75% of Workers Following Strike

TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2014 /CNW/ - American multinational Crown Holdings wants to replace three-quarters of its unionized Toronto workers even if they settle a year-long labour dispute.

Crown Holdings' actions have prompted the Toronto employees' union, the United Steelworkers (USW) to file a complaint of bad faith bargaining and unfair labour practices with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

One of the world's largest manufacturers of food and beverage cans, Crown provoked the strike at its Toronto factory on Sept. 6, 2013, by demanding massive concessions despite doubling its profits and giving the plant its top award in North America for productivity, safety and efficiency.

"In my entire career, I have never seen a company make such a demand – to dump workers even if they agree to end the strike," said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

"If this brutal behaviour is upheld, it sets a dangerous precedent. It threatens to undermine the right to strike in Ontario and embolden employers to engage in permanent replacement of strikers, as is widely practised in the United States," Warren said.

The USW's complaint alleges Crown purposefully engaged in surface bargaining to prevent an agreement and the proposal to replace most employees makes it impossible for workers to agree to it.

"We believe Crown is out to bust the union and is not interested in negotiating an end to this dispute," said USW International Vice-President Fred Redmond who has been handling the negotiations.

In March, workers rejected the company's demands by a vote of 117 to 1 after Crown offered few assurances that workers could return to their jobs. In its most recent proposal, Crown said it wants to cut the wages of most workers by as much as one-third.

"Why any company would want to get rid of its top employees is beyond me," said Redmond.

The USW is escalating its campaign to end the strike and is calling the attention of the public and the Ontario government to Crown's destructive actions.

"We need the government of Ontario to step forward to prevent this union-busting precedent," Warren added.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792; Joe Drexler, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-6009, 416-434-7907, jdrexler@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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