TORONTO—Close to 100 unionized workers at a Toronto food and beverage can manufacturing plant face replacement even if they settle a year-long labour dispute with management, the United Steelworkers (USW) claims.
The union, which represents workers at the Crown Holdings, Inc. plant, said it has filed a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) alleging unfair labour practices and bad faith bargaining.
The complaint with the OLRB alleges Crown “purposefully engaged in surface bargaining to prevent an agreement,” and claims the company wants to replace three-quarters of the roughly 130 workers at the plant, making it “impossible for workers to agree” on a deal.
“In my entire career, I have never seen a company make such a demand—to dump workers even if they agree to end the strike,” the union’s Ontario director, Marty Warren, said in a statement.
“If this brutal behaviour is upheld, it sets a dangerous precedent. It threatens to undermine the right to strike in Ontario and emboldens employers to engage in permanent replacement of strikers, as is widely practiced in the United States.”
None of the union’s allegations have been proven in front of the OLRB.
Workers have been off the job since Sept. 6, 2013, after negotiations with management broke down.
In the weeks that followed, the USW claimed Crown brought in so-called “strikebreakers” from its non-unionized plant in Calgary.
In March, workers rejected an offer presented by the company by a vote of 117 to 1 after Crown allegedly offered few assurances that workers could return to their jobs, according to the union.
The USW’s Warren called for the Ontario government to step in to stop what he described as a “union-busting precedent.”