Tuesday, 29 April 2008

UFCW calls for national boycoot of Robin Hood products

The Duff Beer Daily email list, from the Beer Store Workers UFCW Local 12R24 recently reproduced two articles reporting on a call for a boycott of Robin Hood products:

Union holds rally in Port and calls for Robin Hood product boycott; From The Welland Tribune

The president of United Food and Commercial Workers Canada called for a
boycott of Robin Hood products when he met with UFCW Local 416P members Thursday.

It marked the one-year anniversary of a labour dispute between the union
and Horizon Milling that started when the company locked out 61 workers on April 24, 2007.

The company and the union last met in November to talk about a plan that
would have secured only 19 jobs.

Talks between the two sides broke off over severances, benefits and
retirement packages and have not resumed.

Local 416P president Fred Cronshaw said UFCW national president Wayne
Hanley led a rally Thursday morning attended by about 60 people at the
picket line on Sherwood Forest Lane, on a road leading to the closed mill.

Cronshaw said he is "frustrated" by the fact Horizon Milling has
"slammed the door" on negotiations and left 33 long-serving employees out of jobs.

"Some of the older guys are doing volunteer work in the community to
keep from going insane," Cronshaw said Thursday afternoon.

"The company could have settled this last November. We're waiting for
the company to do the right thing."

Cronshaw said the union can't control how Horizon Milling wants to
operate the mill going forward, but he stressed the workers who are
losing their jobs should be treated with more dignity when it comes to severance packages.

The company plan would return nine workers to the job immediately and
provide future jobs for up to 19 unionized employees in total, Cronshaw said.

"We have 30 people with 30 years in," he said.

"We're not going anywhere. We are still committed and we are still strong."

A pamphlet being circulated in conjunction with UFCW Canada, the
Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation of Labour called for
a nationwide boycott of Robin Hood products.

"The company, which refines flour products under the name of Robin Hood,
offered its workers, whose average seniority is 22 years, a reduction in
benefits, salary, pensions, a removal of severance, a downsizing of the
work force as well as a wage freeze for three years," the pamphlet said.

Rob Meijer, director of corporate affairs for Cargill Canada - the
parent company of Horizon Milling - commented on the work stoppage from Winnipeg Thursday.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "We have a package on the table that we
consider is in the best interests of the workers, the community and the
long-term sustainability of the plant."

As for the boycott, Meijer said Horizon Milling does not own the Robin Hood brand.

"Horizon is only one of several companies to pack Robin Hood products," he said.

"A call to boycott Robin Hood products is misleading to consumers
because it unfairly targets a party that is not involved in these negotiations."



Union calls for Robin Hood boycott; From Niagara This Week

A Canada-wide boycott of all Robin Hood products is being called for by
the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

They hope the action will help get 52 locked-out workers in Port Colborne back on the job.

The UFCW Canada National president Wayne Hanley announced the action as
he visited the line at the Horizon Milling refining plant for the first
time on April 24, one year to the day that the work action began.

Several other UFCW locals from across southern Ontario also attended the
rally to support UFCW 416P and its president, Fred Cronshaw, which
represents the workers at Horizon Milling.

"This is not a day of speeches or celebrations. This is a day of
recognition," said Hanley, addressing the about 70 people in the mixed
crowd of workers and supporters. "We have workers here locked out for a
year and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight."

Hanley announced that the nationwide boycott of Robin Hood products,
which includes flour, oatmeal and other baking products, has been
approved by both the Canadian Labour Congress and the Ontario Federation
of Labour. The CLC's convention is upcoming in May and Hanley hopes the
word will spread across the country about the work action and boycott.

"This seems like a proper time to get some support across Canada," said
Hanley to applause. "It might be the catalyst of what might start a settlement."

The work action, now in its second year, began when the UFCW 416P
refused to a new collective bargaining agreement with Horizon Milling's
parent company Cargill, a major wheat-refining corporation based in the
United States. The original agreement expired in November 2006 and
Cargill offered the union, with an average worker seniority of 22 years,
a deal which included reductions in wages, benefits, pensions, a removal
of severance, downsizing and a three-year wage freeze.

The last time the two sides met was Nov. 8, when the company agreed to
give back some severance. Thirty-three people at the mill however, would
still be out of a job. After failing to reach an agreement, the negotiating companies haven't met since.

When the lockout began, 61 people were originally out of work. However, some have retired or passed away.

About seven salaried workers report to the plant every day under heavy video surveillance, said Cronshaw.

"They're cleaning the cleaning," said Hanley.

The plant contains no raw material.

Hanley said the takeover by Cargill has resulted in "U.S. values" being pushed on "Canadian workers, which is really sad."

"It's hardly fair for anybody to point the finger at the union here," he said.

Cronshaw thanked the supporters at the rally for coming out.

"We're kind of isolated back here, so it's nice to know we're not alone," he said.


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