Locked-Out Employees Protest Treatment by Sears

TORONTO, July 28 /CNW/ - Sears employees and their supporters, including local politicians, will gather Thursday near the giant retailer's flagship Toronto store to protest the company's lock out of warehouse workers for the last four months.

    WHAT:  Protest and leafleting against Sears' treatment of its employees

    WHEN:  Thursday, July 29, 12:30 pm

    WHERE: Yonge and Dundas, Toronto, near Sears downtown store

    WHO:   Locked-out Sears workers, supporters, local politicians

About 500 employees of the Sears Canada warehouse in Vaughan, Ont. - members of United Steelworkers Local 9537 - were locked out of their jobs April 1 after they refused to accept Sears' demands for major concessions.

Despite a yearly profit of $250 million, Sears has refused to negotiate since the lockout started and has now hired scabs to perform the locked-out workers' jobs.

Sears is seeking a collective agreement that would give it the right to make unilateral changes to many important working conditions of the warehouse workers.

After locking out its employees and refusing to return to the bargaining table, Sears took advantage of a rarely used section of the Ontario Labour Relations Act to force a 'final offer vote' on its proposed collective agreement. The employees responded by voting strongly to reject Sears' proposed agreement.

Sears also went to court to seek major restrictions on the rights of the very employees that Sears itself forced onto picket lines. And in recent weeks, Sears has been using scab labour to try to operate the warehouse.

"Sears is throwing everything it can at its own workers - locking them out of their jobs, going to court to restrict their picketing and now hiring scabs," said Terry Bea, USW representative. "But our members have remained strong. They deserve a fair contract and they are determined to get it."

The USW is expanding its campaign in support of the locked-out Sears employees. The campaign has included radio ads on Toronto and Hamilton stations (http://jgoss.com/district6/Searsjingle.mp3); distributing thousands of leaflets at Sears stores across the GTA, Hamilton and Niagara regions; and a rally outside a Hamilton Sears store, attended by workers, labour activists and area politicians.

"We are getting good feedback from our public campaign," said Wayne Fraser, USW Ontario Director. "Shoppers know they can vote with their dollars and that there are other retailers to choose from."

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: For further information: Terry Bea, USW Staff Representative, 905-629-4991, Ext. 227, 416-895-1986 (c), tbea@usw.ca

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