Bottled Beer Tastes Better this Summer: Crown Holdings Strikers

LCBO, Beer Store customers urged to avoid suds in 'scab cans' produced by strikebreaking U.S. manufacturer

TORONTO, June 18, 2014 /CNW/ - Toronto workers forced on strike nine months ago by can-making giant Crown Holdings are appealing to LCBO and Beer Store customers not to buy canned suds.

The appeal to beer drinkers comes as the strikers – members of the United Steelworkers – escalate their campaign to compel U.S.-based Crown to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. Rather than negotiating a fair deal with its Toronto employees, Crown has recruited strikebreakers to try to operate the local factory.

The striking Toronto employees are urging LCBO and Beer Store customers in the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario to purchase bottled beer until the labour dispute is settled.

The strikers are distributing leaflets asking customers, "Are you buying scab cans?" and encouraging them to bottled beer.

"This American company is using scabs to do our jobs and drive down wages, especially for young workers," the leaflets state, noting Crown's demands for wage cuts of up to 42 per cent.

"We felt it was time we made the public aware of our strike and the issues involved," said USW representative Lawrence Hay.

"Molson and Labatt, two of the largest customers supplied by Crown, are majority owners of The Beer Store, and the LCBO carries a range of beer in Crown cans. Since Crown hasn't been willing to negotiate with us, we need customers to know the best way they can help is to complain to the company and drink beer in bottles."

The striking Toronto employees have been on the picket line since Sept. 6, 2013 in an attempt to fight back Crown's demands for huge concessions, including a permanent, low-wage scale for new workers.

Crown has been operating its Toronto facility well below capacity with inexperienced and temporary replacement workers, or scabs.

The appeal to beer consumers adds to the strikers' campaign that includes picketing of Crown Holdings' major customers, including Molson, Labatt and Cott.

Since March, Crown has not been willing to meaningfully negotiate with the USW. Crown last offered a proposal that provided few if any assurances that the striking employees would be recalled to their jobs. Employees voted 117-1 against the proposal and the company has not met with the union since.

"It seems clear that Crown doesn't want us back and is trying to bust the union," Hay said. "Our people want to get back to work. We hope the public can help us push the company back to the negotiating table to make a fair deal."

For more information on the strike and the USW's campaign, including photos and video, see www.takebacksnomore.ca.

SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Lawrence Hay, USW Staff Representative, 416-807-8792, lhay@usw.ca; Alexandra Eshelman, USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544-5968, aeshelman@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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