CAW Supports COPE Take Over of FirstOntario Credit Union Branch
April 18, 2007
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A large number of CAW activists were on hand for the take-over of the FirstOntario Credit Union main branch in Hamilton, Ontario, April 18, by members of COPE Local 343, the Canadian Office and Professional Employees union.
"You're in here unauthorized would you please leave. The police are on their way." That's okay you can leave. You can leave."
The COPE sisters stood firm and with the help of Don Fraser, President of the Hamilton and District Labour council barricaded the doors. Outside the pickets showed their solidarity.
Chanting background sound
Members from various CAW locals from Oakville to Saint Catharines rallied to support the COPE workers, who have been on strike for six months.
Pres. CAW Local 555
"These workers, all 69 of them have been fighting for, not just things that are important to them but they are important to all workers. And members of the CAW fight for all workers, it doesn't matter what union you are a member of, we're here to support these workers as they stand firm."
CAW Local 707
"We're all one big union. As far as I'm concerned we're all one big union."
Pres. CAW Local 504
"We're out here to support these workers. They have been out here way too long."
Pres. CAW Local 199
"This is about an employer that wants to bust the union in this area and I am sure that once they do it here they may try to do it down in the Niagara region ."
The Hamilton Wentworth Regional Police gathered near the First Ontario Branch and after several hours moved in armed with bolt cutters. When their efforts were stymied by the workers inside the police broke through the security glass door and took possession of the branch. They charged Don Fraser, president of the Hamilton and District Labour council with obstructing police. The women were told charges against them could be laid They were then released one at a time. In less than three hours the occupation was over but the fight is continuing according to Patty Clancy, a COPE Local 343 staff representative.
COPE Staff Rep.
"The fight goes on. Workers have to have better respect and better treatment and when a company is making record profits and bragging about it; and a CEO is making mega bucks and these workers average $30,000 a year, how dare they take away their sick days and their pension and their vacation and any number of things when they sit in their ivory towers."
Ontario Director for COPE, Janice Best, blamed FirstOntario for the dispute. She said the workers had no choice since the company won't bargain nor go to binding arbitration.
COPE Ontario Dir.
"We are willing to go to binding arbitration in order to get this strike settled, and get a collective agreement in place and have our members return to work."
While the occupation is over, the strike will continue, as will the CAW's commitment to these workers.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."