CAW Brings Severance Fight to Bay Street, Targets Catalyst Capital
April 25, 2012, 8:50 AM EST
CAW activists demonstrated in the heart of Canada's financial district and outside the offices of private equity firm Catalyst Capital on Monday April 23, protesting the company's refusal to provide severance pay to workers laid off from a plant closure in Guelph.
CAW Local 1917 members at Snowbear, the largest Canadian manufacturer of utility trailers and snowplows, have been left without hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay since their facility was idled in the fall of 2011.
The workers, along with over 150 CAW supporters, marched from the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto to the front doors of the Royal Trust Tower, head office of private equity firm (and secured lender to Snowbear) Catalyst Capital, demanding a meeting with the firm's top executive Newton Glassman. The Tower entrance was locked down by security personnel and patrolled by police.
"We've been reaching out to Catalyst Capital for months to discuss this issue of severance pay, without any response," CAW President Ken Lewenza told the crowd that was waving placards and holding a banner asking: "Where's Our Fair Share?"
"This is utterly disrespectful to the workers who've put in many years of hard work."
Catalyst is trying to sell the assets of the company to recoup lost investments, said Jerry Dias, Assistant to the CAW President. Dias said the CAW has not been provided any assurances that 36 laid-off workers at Snowbear will receive the approximately $500,000 in severance pay they are still owed.
"Current rules in Canada put workers at the end of the line when it comes to recouping lost severance pay," Dias said. "For many of these workers, severance pay is what puts food on the table and pays the rent as they look for new work."
CAW Local 1917 President Robin Dudley said a few thousand dollars doesn't mean much to rich executives like Newton Glassman but it means a heck of a lot for the rest of us.
Gary DeLong, CAW Plant Chairperson at Snowbear and Bill Gibson, CAW Kitchener Area Director also addressed the crowd.
Snowbear joins a long list of Ontario workplaces that have denied workers severance pay in the wake of a plant closure, including Aradco/Aramco in Windsor, Progressive Moulded Products in Toronto, Polywheels Manufacturing in Oakville and Edscha in Niagara Falls, among others.
To hear independent social justice reporter John Bonnar's podcast of the Snowbear rally, visit: www.rabble.ca