Police officer hit by car at USW protest in Philadelphia

Canadian Crown Holdings employees travelled to company’s headquarters

Dozens of striking Canadian workers from Crown Holdings’ Weston, Ont., plant travelled to the company’s headquarters in Philadelphia on Nov. 19 to protest its plan for a two-tier wage scale for employees.

A police officer dispatched to the protest was struck by a car at about 9 a.m.

United Steelworkers (USW) Toronto area council president Carolyn Egan, who witnessed the incident, said it was horrifying and unprovoked.

“The police were just doing their job ensuring that everyone was safe in the peaceful protest, and the driver stopped briefly to take a leaflet and said ‘You better let me through because the guy in the back may be able to solve your problem,’ and then sped away hitting the officer,” Egan said.

A press release from USW reported the vehicle allegedly carried a “key corporate officer” of Crown Holdings.

The company’s proposed two-tier wage scale would see a permanent lower wages for new and younger employees — a proposition that, the union says, forced workers to strike.

“Crown doubled its profits last year and gave us an award this year for being one of the most profitable, productive and safest plants in its worldwide empire,” said Ken Hetherton, president of USW Local 9176. “Now Crown is demanding we take unfair cuts after years of sacrifice, including nine years without a pension increase.”

In a statement Hetherton said the proposed wage scale was an attempt to weaken the union’s operations through tensions created by significant wage differences between older and younger workers.

“While this may not have been intentional it does show the level of tension that has been building as a result of Crown forcing us on strike,” Hetherton said of the incident.

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