MONTERREY, Mexico, April 24, 2015 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers (USW) members from Canada joined 32 members of Los Mineros, the National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union of Mexico, to confront Crown Holdings directors at the corporation's annual shareholder meeting Thursday.
Crown's shareholders' meeting strangely took place at its recently acquired can manufacturing plant in Monterrey, after being held for over a decade at the company's Philadelphia headquarters.
Los Mineros draped a large banner in front of the plant's main entrance, stating: "Crown Holdings – Stop Your Union Busting in Canada." The banner refers to a 19-month strike provoked by Crown at its metal can manufacturing plant in Toronto, where workers are represented by the USW.
Los Mineros members drove four hours from Zacatecas in the wee hours of the morning to start picketing and leafleting at 7:30 a.m. with Steelworkers. The two unions distributed over 100 leaflets to Mexican workers entering the plant.
"The Steelworkers have the unconditional support of Los Mineros," said Daniel Cossio, a member of National Executive Committee of Los Mineros. If not stopped, Crown will do the same things to Mexican workers as it has done to Canadian workers, he said.
Inside at the shareholders meeting, USW member Lodrick Joseph, a 29-year Crown employee from Toronto, asked CEO John Conway why Crown would spend as much as $33 million in a futile attempt to break the union in Toronto. Negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement to end the strike would cost a fraction of that, Joseph pointed out.
Although Conway did not answer the question, he did not refute the estimate of the strike's cost.
Rob DePippo, a 38-year Crown worker, asked why the company would attack its highly awarded Toronto employees and force a strike when USW members were only asking to keep what they had.
DePippo pointed out that it had been over a decade since Crown's Toronto workers had received a raise other than meager cost-of-living increases. He said the strike was endangering Crown's customer base in Canada and incurring major expenses by having to ship cans from other plants in the U.S.
Joe Drexler, USW Head of Strategic Campaigns in Canada, pointed out that Crown had not moved away from its union busting demands despite major intervention by the Ontario government. He challenged the company to agree to binding arbitration for a new collective agreement in the interest of shareholders, the company and its workers.
Conway did not comment and closed the meeting.
Crown's board of directors was quickly escorted out of the room into waiting vehicles. The meeting lasted approximately 20 minutes and there was no report about the company's performance. There were approximately only 40 persons in attendance.
The USW accused the company of moving the meeting to Mexico to avoid a larger rally and presence in Philadelphia, where the city council recently passed a resolution condemning Crown's practices in Toronto.
The rally and leafleting at the plant gate was covered by four different news outlets in Monterrey.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)