LAVAL, QC, Jan. 25, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - Negotiations for the renewal of the collective agreement for the 700 or so workers at the Molson plant on Notre-Dame Street in Montreal are expected to be difficult.
A visit by the Teamsters union representatives to the picket lines of workers at Molson's Toronto plant does not bode well for labour relations.
Éric Picotte, the union president of the Notre-Dame Street brewery, visited his 300 or so brothers and sisters affiliated with the brewery workers' union (NUPGE) in a show of solidarity and to get an idea of what to expect in the upcoming bargaining.
These workers have been on strike since January 12. The concessions requested by the employer were deemed unacceptable and are the reason behind the labour dispute.
Molson wants to make workers pay more for their pension plan, significantly reduce benefits and eliminate them for future retirees as of 2019. This is an unfair decision since these men and women have been working all their lives for these benefits.
Conditions have deteriorated so much that the workers have had no choice but to strike.
Construction of a new plant in Montreal and industrial peace
The potential construction of a new plant in Montreal could have a direct impact on industrial peace between the brewer and its workers affiliated with Teamsters Union Local 1999. In addition, Molson's recent switch to cans has already had a major impact, namely, the elimination of nearly 71 jobs at the Notre-Dame Street plant, a situation that has angered union members.
The Teamsters fought against the shift to canned beer by launching an advertising campaign in December 2015, in which they pointed out that cans are not as environmentally friendly as capped brown bottles. The Union also launched a campaign to make elected officials aware of the economic and ecological impact resulting from the brewer's decision.
Negotiations to renew the Montreal workers' collective agreement will begin in the fall. The current employment contract will expire in December 2017. The rumor is that the brewery will announce its decision regarding the possible construction of a new plant in the spring. The workers' biggest fear is that the brewer will shift its entire production to cans, a move that will lead to many job losses.
Based on discussions with union leaders at the Toronto plant, Éric Picotte fears that Molson will bring the same requests to the bargaining table in Montreal.
"We will not have Molson's executives force the same concessions on us as on the Toronto workers," warned Éric Picotte. "We are willing to negotiate in good faith and with an open mind but only if the quality of our members' work is recognized for its value and their jobs are preserved."
It has become clear over time, especially since the merger with Coors and the takeover of Miller, that the talks are being led by U.S. leaders, who are setting up a bargaining pattern in which they impose conditions and in which workers' demands are simply rejected out of hand.
"The employer has repeatedly told us that its plants are competing with each other across North America," added the union leader. "We believe this is a ploy to divide workers in order to make it easier for them to impose unacceptable conditions. We will not fall into this trap; that's why we went to encourage our brothers and sisters in Toronto."
In short, the Teamsters Union will be keeping a close eye on the negotiations to renew the Montreal plant's collective agreement.
The Teamsters represents 115,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
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SOURCE Teamsters Canada
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