After nearly two weeks on strike, a collective agreement was reached between Workers United Local 2641 and NGF Canada.
During the strike, The 28 union members were joined on the picket line by dozens of supporters, including CLC president Hassan Yussuff.
‘The support that we received from everyone was unbelievable. From the city bus drivers, to the local community, to the guys next door at Owens Corning. We had people dropping by with baked goods and water.” said BJ Cardy, the union’s staff representative.
A stuffed teddy bear was given to the striking workers by two local girls. Adopted by the union and named “Dave”, the bear has made its way to Toronto to bring solidarity to striking workers at WoodGreen Community Services, who are also Workers United members.
Negotiations resumed on October 11, after the union and their allies successfully stopped replacement workers from entering the plant on the ninth and tenth.
The agreement was discussed by union members, and 78% voted in favor of ratification on October 12.
The company agreed to drop the two-tiered pension and vacation demands, which would have penalized future workers. The company also conceded to delete language about student hirings, which would have potentially allowed part-time hiring of workers from outside the bargaining unit.
Incremental wage increases and contract length were two areas where the union made concessions, said Cardy. The contract is for five years starting with wage increases of 1% graduating to 2% in years four and five.
Though there are “some fences to be mended” both internally and with the employer, Cardy says that the resolution definitely feels like a victory. “I’m very pleased that the parties were able to come to a resolution” said Cardy, “Negotiations are just that, there’s got to be give and take, but what was taken off the table by the employer was very significant to the workers.”
Ella Bedard is rabble.ca’s labour intern. She has written about labour issues for Dominion.ca and the Halifax Media Co-op and is the co-producer of the radio documentary The Amelie: Canadian Refugee Policy and the Story of the 1987 Boat People. She now lives in Toronto where she enjoys chasing the labour beat, biking and birding.
Photo: Susan Taylor