Tag Archives: family

One Coke family’s story #cokestrike

Coke Lockout Brampton. Still going. « You know… that Blog?.

Full article linked above.  Coke workers are real people, with real families.  Nobody wanted this lockout.


In the face of such a colossal battle, it is hard to keep spirits up and pretend life is hunky-dory.

Coca Cola locked out its workers on June 26th, hours before the strike deadline. That’s 2 weeks ago tomorrow. Since then they have done nothing but ignore the Union requesting they return to the negotiating table, and post complete fabrications of why they did it. Finally, today, they have agreed to resume talks. A good step, but we’re nowhere near an agreement.

Coca Cola claims that the Union walked away from them. Not true. They claim that the union is unreasonable, and wanted staggeringly ridiculous amounts of increases. To everything. Come on. Do they really expect anyone to believe that? Well, yes. In fact they do. Coca Cola apparently really does think that the general public is that naive, and will believe anything they state as fact. Why? Well, because they’re COKE, of course. One of the biggest corporations on the planet! *insert beating chest noises here. Gorilla grunts too, for good measure*

They even sent a letter to the employees outlining the demands they say the Union made, and expecting the very employees they’ve locked out to believe it! The level of audacity here is off the charts!

Click links below to read the letter

Click links below to read the letter

 

Want a laugh? Here’s Page 1 and Page 2. You might notice that they don’t provide a way for their employees to actually call and speak to someone. Or even email them. They’ve completely stripped their letterhead of contact info.

No sane person would ever ask for what the company claims the union is asking for, when we all agree the current wages and benefits are fair. The guys get statutory holidays – they’re not asking for more. They get a reasonable amount of sick days, and don’t need more of those either. The only thing our people are truly concerned about is improving the safety of the workers in the Brampton plant, keeping pension and benefits generally as they are – including those for new hires (Coke doesn’t want more Full-timers, and they don’t want anyone new to get any pension) – and ensuring there will still be jobs to come back to, instead of Coke outsourcing those jobs. There are no doubt other adjustments that I’m not privvy to; I’m neither a union member or Coke worker. I can say with confidence though, that the union is neither greedy, nor stupid.

I worry about finances, first and foremost, since that income is lost, and there’s a mortgage and other bills to pay. Hard on what we’re bringing in right now. We’ll be ok, because I am my father’s daughter and had rainy-day funds put away “just in case”. What I can do to stretch a dollar is pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

Some summer plans have been postponed or canceled, in large part because walking the picket line is so important. Our youngest daughter doesn’t seem to be noticing that too much though; she’s quite happy spending her days with the neighbourhood kids. Our oldest daughter is working full time, getting ready for College in the fall. This doesn’t impact her nearly so much.

I worry about my husband, because the stress is pretty huge. He’s gone every day, walking the picket line and trying to make a difference. He’s there longer than he’s scheduled to be, doing more than he’s been asked to do. That’s the kind of guy he is, but he’s not the only one. This is pretty typical of the kind of people who work at the Brampton Coke plant.

We have good people behind us. Community support, and also there are other websites springing into action, and also into existence. The amount of people Tweeting and Re-tweeting has exploded in support of #cokestrike. So no, Coke. The general public really isn’t naive, nor are they stupid. What they are is tired of mega corporations trying to crush unions, and erode the middle class.

My own posts here have slowed down a little, because I’m so active on Twitter these days, and because there are better websites for this sort of post. This is a personal blog, and eventually it will return to normalcy. I’m not stopping yet though – this is as much my fight as it is my husbands, and there are thousands of people affected by Coke’s actions and behaviour in Canada. Once they’re through with this negotiation at the largest Coca Cola plant in Canada, it will be on to the next Coca Cola location whose contract is set to expire. And the next. And the next. We’re fighting for employees and families across the country.

 

#Cokestrike – What’s it all about?

First off, this is not a strike.  It’s a lockout.  When the deadline for bargaining passed, and the workers refused Coke’s demand for major concessions in hard earned pensions and benefits, Coke LOCKED THEM OUT.  With a fence they began building long before negotiations had ended.  Coke had no intention of bargaining in good faith.  Wages were never even discussed.  In spite of what Coke has released publicly, bringing up wages in their media release was a red herring to distract attention from Coke’s attempt to claw back the benefits and pensions that Coke employees ALREADY HAVE.  And to make the deal worse for new hires, who will never enjoy the same benefits, and never see a pension.  In a move that ensures its place among the ranks of the poster children for corporate greed, Coke’s Canadian operations, in spite of a declared profit of 9 BILLION have decided they need more.  Citing ‘tough economic times’, (Tough for WHOM?  That number again is $9 000 000 000.00!) Coke has decided that in no longer wants to extend benefits and pensions as part of its agreed upon compensation packages, because other companies in the private sector are getting away with offering less.  It doesn’t take an economist to figure out that this is a formula for a quick race to the bottom, as everyone struggles to offer as little as the law will allow.  Coke doesn’t need workers to tighten their belts.  They’re not going broke.  They’re enormously profitable.  They are profitable because of the hard working men and women, from the line on up, who make the product.  A supply chain is called a chain for a reason.  EVERY LINK MATTERS.

Coke page 1

Coke page 2

This is where the union comes in.  Only in solidarity do workers have a voice loud enough to make themselves heard.  Not just by Coke, but by the consuming public as well.  When we hold the line for Coke workers, we’re holding up the bar for ALL workers.  Temporary, precarious work hurts ALL Canadians, and harms the economy for ALL of us.  Without organized labour, the bar slips lower and lower for all workers, not just unionized ones.  Push back against #corporategreed . Support #cokestrike . #boycottcoke and help #holdtheline for workers everywhere.

Why should I care about locked out Coke workers?

A lot of people think union negotiations don’t affect them.  They don’t belong to unions.  They think it’s unfair that union workers get so much more from employers than they do.  That may be true. But that’s because collective bargaining gives workers a voice they would otherwise not have.  The real issue isn’t that unions get so much, but that the rest of us get so little.  Corporations are declaring record profits, and yet continue to erode worker benefits and compensation, all while exploiting tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share into the social framework that helps them function.  Think unions don’t have an effect?  Look at when the middle class emerged.  Look at when it flourished.  Now look at where it starts to erode.  Help keep the middle class from being a flash in the economic pan.  Locked out Coke workers are holding a line.  Like all unions do.  Without them, corporations will steamroll right over the working class.  Even our legislators are bought and paid for by big business, and can no longer be counted upon to protect the interests of working Canadians.

Coke in particular has a brutal history when it comes to dealing with labour in its operations around the globe.  You can read more about it here.  Support locked out Coke workers, boycott Coke until they deal fairly, and follow along at #cokestrike.

Unions and eqality

Coke- 9 Billion in profits demanding concessions from workers citing ‘tough economic times’.

In light of recent statements released by Coca Cola Refreshments we are writing to clarify details of the ongoing labour dispute between the employer and CAW local 973.

As you know, CAW members at the Coke bottling facility in Brampton have been in a legal strike position since midnight on June 27. That coincided with the expiration of our current collective agreement. Right from the start, our union was determined to negotiate a fair agreement with the employer.

In its recent statement, entitled Setting the Record Straight the company blames the union for refusing to negotiate past the midnight strike deadline – claiming that we walked away from the bargaining table. This is totally misleading.

Our union sets bargaining deadlines for a reason. And that’s to ensure contracts are negotiated in a timely and efficient manner. If we don’t set deadlines, management can drag out negotiations for months – even years.

Despite our best intentions, Coke negotiators expressed no interest in reaching a deal. In fact, the company spent a total of 39 of 160 hours with us at the bargaining table, over the course of 12 days.

Furthermore, the company escorted some workers out of the facility prior to the midnight deadline. Their claims that the strike was initiated solely by the Union are totally false.

Because continuing negotiations past midnight on June 27 was impossible due to our responsibility to our members, we offered to return to the table at 9am the following day to resume discussions. The company refused our offer to continue talks. We continue to urge the employer to come back to the bargaining table, but they refuse.

The company is also claiming that they did not have the opportunity to provide the Union with a comprehensive offer that included wages before the strike began. This claim is utterly false as both sides were in negotiations for 12 days leading up to the expiry of the agreement and well aware of the approaching deadline. We’ve been on the street for more than a week, and still haven’t received an offer.

Instead of moving talks forward, Coca Cola chose to present a series of concessions that attacked workers’ benefits, job security and work rules as well as their union.

Some of the most significant concessions the employer attempted to push on workers are:

  • The elimination of three observed holidays; 
  • Significant cuts to both short and long-term disability benefits, turning back the clock on over ten years of improvements through negotiations; 
  • A radical shift to health benefits by introducing a cost-sharing plan requiring workers to pay a portion of the cost of benefits; 
  • The elimination of the defined benefit pension plan for all new hires, to be replaced with a defined contribution plan; 
  • The elimination of an entire department to be outsourced to a third party; 
  • Changes to policies regarding contracting in or out work that has traditionally been performed by skilled tradespersons; 
  • Further restrictions to the system in place aimed to help temporary employees transition to permanent positions; 
  • Elimination of union recognition to harassment and discrimination, violence in the workplace, human rights representation, social justice and training; 
  • Dismantle seniority list, creating 4 separate lists that would deny many workers access to layoff, recall and job posting provisions

It’s astonishing that a company that netted $9 billion in profits last year would reference the “tough economic times” we all face. Tough economic times for workers, absolutely. Tough economic times for Coke? No chance.

The Union strongly urges the employer to return to the bargaining table and to present a comprehensive offer that is fair for all parties. It’s the right thing to do.

Coca Cola workers are eager to get back on the job providing quality service to our valued customers, but cannot do so until a fair agreement has been reached.

Coca Cola says that they do not want a strike, and yet they refuse to negotiate or provide a comprehensive offer.

CAW local 973 workers appreciate continued support and solidarity messages from workers across the country, including from Coca Cola workers at other facilities. For more information about the strike, please don’t hesitate to contact us, our information is listed below.

In solidarity,

Norm Chow, President of CAW local 973
647-618-9730
n.chow@caw973.ca

Ryan Parson, Plant Chairperson
647-407-0973
chair@caw973.ca
CAW Local 973 Home.