CAW Sysco foods Workers Win Fight Against Scabs
April 1, 2008
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After being locked out by the company and seeing their work taken over by scabs, the 274 workers at the Sysco Foods terminal in Peterborough, Ontario, members of CAW Local 414, have won their fight for seniority rights as well as wage and benefit improvements.
The lock out started On March 28, 2008, after the workers rejected a proposed contract by 62 per cent. Sysco Foods also brought in scabs to load and drive the trucks. The workers immediately put up picket lines and blockaded the facility.
CAW Local 414
"I think our guys did a great job at the start of this whole thing by getting this thing organized. And since then the CAW has kept coming and supporting us. I'm really surprised at the support that we've gotten."
CAW leaders and workers from other CAW locals rallied to help the Sysco workers. Edith Pike of Local 4142 was on the line.
CAW Local 4142
"They shouldn't be in there doing the work on the jobs. We have employees out here who are willing to do their job. They just need the proper tools and the support to do it."
The dispute was not a matter of money but of respect according to Christine Connor, president of Local 414 and the workers on the picket line.
President CAW Local 414
"I was on the line and I was thinking, all those scabs they were bringing in, why? Why are you wasting this much money? Our guys want to work. They want to go back to work. They need their jobs and you won't give them seniority. You wouldn't give them respect in the workplace."
CAW Local 414
"They just don't want to give us any seniority. Like we've got drivers that have been here 35 years. They want to make them off-load trailers and them guys should have preference runs. They don't want to give us that. It not about benefits or money."
April 1, 2008
When the company brought in scabs the national union decided to take more drastic action. On Tuesday April 1, Bobby Orr, assistant to the CAW secretary-treasurer, met with leaders from CAW Locals in southern Ontario to plan for a shut down of the Sysco Food Terminals in Mississauga and Milton. Orr said he had warned the company not to bring in scabs.
Assistant to CAW Secretary-Treasurer
"We made it very clear to the employer that when you pick a fight with our plant we will rally behind it. When you pick a fight with the whole union we will rally behind it ten fold."
The company filed a $10 million lawsuit against the leadership of the union as well as seeking an injunction against the pickets.
Assistant to CAW President
"They can have all the courts. They can have all their lawsuits but we've got the commitment. And as long as we've got the commitment of our organization, the strength of the leadership, the strength of the rank and file, the strength of the activists we're going to win."
While the CAW locals were mobilizing to shut all the Sysco Foods terminals down on Thursday, the workers on the picket line in Peterborough stormed the facility, removed the scabs and shut down the operation.
The next morning the company returned to the bargaining table. An agreement was reached and ratified by the workers, giving them a $1.80 wage improvement over three years, increased benefits and most importantly drastically improved seniority rights over scheduling, routes and warehouse jobs.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."