United Steelworkers intensify campaign against Crown Holdings

Union sends letter to Crown’s CEO and Board of Directors demanding action
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/23/2013

The United Steelworkers (USW) intensified its campaign against Crown Holdings following weeks of striking. The union sent letters to Crown’s CEO John Conway and the company’s Board of Directors demanding they take action to end the three-week strike at a Toronto beverage and food can manufacturing plant.

USW Local 9176 represents 130 employees who help produce more than five million cans every day at Crown Holdings’ Weston, Ontario, plant. Employees went on strike on Sept. 6 after Crown called for a two-tier wage schedule, the removal of a cost-of-living allowance and minimal wage increases.

Crown, which runs 149 plants and operations in 41 countries, is drawing out the campaign in an effort to lower wages and working conditions, USW said.

“It is disappointing to know that despite their achievements, Crown has little respect for the dedication and hard work of its employees at both the Weston plant and at other Crown facilities throughout the world,” the union’s letter read.

“Crown’s demands threaten the well-being of current and future generations of its employees. Union members in North American and across the globe fully understand your strategy is to increase profits, after doubling them in 2012, by gradually lowering wages, benefits and working conditions. We are joining together to fight against the erosion of dignity and fairness that Crown is forcing upon its workers.”

Representatives for Crown Holdings had not responded to interview requests at press time.

Union leaders representing thousands of employees throughout North America and the United Kingdom, including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Unite and IndustriALL, co-signed the letters in support of USW.

“We are launching a global campaign to fight back for Crown workers and their communities all over the world,” USW Canadian national director Ken Neumann said. “The Toronto plant is one of the company’s premiere plants, and it’s time to draw a line in the sand to stop Crown’s unwarranted attack on all its workers.”

If the USW’s labour action escalates, it could force Crown customers in Canada — including breweries and soft-drink companies — to seek other suppliers.

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