Customers at grocery stores will be asked to support workers
EDMONTON, April 2 /CNW/ - Albertans are being asked not to buy potato
chips made by Old Dutch Foods, after the company locked out 170 of its
employees in Calgary. The union representing the affected workers, Local 401
of the United Food and Commercial Workers, says the company is trying to use
the economic pressure generated by the recession to put the squeeze on its
workers - even when the company is profitable.
Doug O'Halloran, President of Local 401, says that the recession is
contributing to the dispute: "The company is still making money - lots of it.
No industry is completely recession-proof, but snack food manufacturing comes
pretty close. But managers at this company have decided to take advantage of
the economic insecurity that people are feeling by saying 'my way or the
O'Halloran goes on to say that awareness of this economic insecurity
makes the locked out workers even more determined: "We told the company we
didn't want a work stoppage: that we wanted to keep bargaining, but they chose
to take a hard line. In fact, our negotiating position is a response to the
recession. We asked for some guaranteed minimum hours of work, so our members
know from week-to-week what kind of money will be coming in."
"And this dispute isn't about big amounts of money - the difference
between our wage proposals and the company's is something we think can be
solved at the bargaining table. But we've also asked for sick leave
provisions, which to us is just common sense - you don't want sick people
dragging themselves into work and handling food, because they can't afford to
miss a day's wages. We've asked for food safety language, because the union
and the employees want to be directly involved in making sure the food that
leaves the plant is completely safe."
The employer is also refusing to agree that all employees in the
bargaining unit be required to pay union dues as they are in almost all other
"Old Dutch doesn't give their chips away for free, so why are they
interfering with the union's right to survive?" says O'Halloran.
"We don't think the public wants to see ordinary working people getting
pushed to the wall in these tough times, so we're asking them not to purchase
the following brand names:
- Old Dutch - Great Value
- President's Choice - Compliments
- No Name - Safeway Blue Bags."
For further information:
For further information: Doug O'Halloran, UFCW 401 President at (403)