Strike mandate from workers at Redpath Sugar in Belleville, Ont.

End two-tier wage structure: UFCW

Employees at Redpath Sugar in Belleville, Ont., turned down a final offer on March 11 from the employer and voted 90 per cent in favour of taking strike action.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Local 175 negotiating committee met with the employer on eight occasions and on the eighth day, the parties met in conciliation. At the end of that day, the employer tabled a final offer, which the workers voted down at the March 11 meeting, said the union.

“The members at Redpath gave their committee a strong message with the strike vote,” said Shawn Haggerty, UFCW 175 president. “They will do what they need to, to achieve a fair deal that addresses their concerns, and the union will have their backs.”

Members want to end — or at least significantly reduce — the two-tier wage grid and benefit contribution level gaps. Wages for employees hired before Nov. 28, 2010, are $3.85 per hour more than those hired after that date. In addition, the employer pays 100 per cent of the benefit premiums for employees hired before Nov. 28, 2010. However, any employees hired after that date must pay 20 per cent of the premium cost, said the union.

The employees wanted strong language in the contract limiting the employer’s use of temporary workers instead of hiring additional full-time employees. Lastly, the workers wanted the issue of mandatory overtime dealt with as well, according to UFCW.

The current agreement for the approximately 80 employees at Redpath Sugar expired on Dec. 10, 2017. The Union requested a “no-board” report from the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) on March 12.

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