• 900 Devine St.Sarnia, Ontario N7T-1X5

Sunday Nights Meeting.

I showed up in a van from a hotel across town to the Turvey center. Really had no idea what to expect. I walked in and out of the bitter cold to a hall packed with Unifor Members from all across the country – Members representing every province. All to stand up for our Brothers and Sisters from local 594 who are in their 7th week of being locked out.

Monday Morning

Wake up at 5 a.m. to be ready for our early bus ride to the line. I dressed warm as it was -31 degrees – yes, it was that cold.

The line was packed. Everyone was extremely excited to be there and lend the support needed.

Put in the shift and then got an emergency return to the line call. Our National President, and 13 others were arrested for holding the line. Rumour is that it was going to escalate, followed by more rumours of the cops using tear gas. A few of get out fitted for the cold again call a cab and off we go.

The energy was amazing. Hundreds of people at gate 7 alone, as well as hundreds more distributed at the other gates.

Fit right in and in a hurry we are stopping the trucks and talking with the Police. An hour later the situation became a lot calmer. A little after midnight I got in a ride with our security company back to the hotel.

On the line early day one.

The line was packed. Everyone excited to be there and lend the support needed.

8 am day one.

Wow it was cold but people were all a buzz to be there. Hundreds of people reinforcing and creating a complete blockade of the refinery.

Sun’s up day 1.

Awesome to see the sun, started to warm up. Moved down to another gate to try to reinforce their line.

Called back to the line

Put in the shift and then got an emergency return to the line call. Our National President and 13 others arrested for holding the line. Rumors that it was going to escalate and even rumors of the cops using tear gas. A few of get out fitted for the cold again call a cab and off we go.

The energy was amazing. Hundreds of people at gate 7 alone, as well as hundreds more distributed at the other gates.

Jumped right in and in a hurry we are stopping the trucks and talking with the Police. An hour later the situation a lot calmer and a little after midnight I hop a ride with our security company back to the hotel.

Tuesday Afternoon Shift.

Arrive back at gate 7 for my afternoon shift.

It had been a busy day for the picketers as they had a few rallies that saw other Unions like CUPE show up and lend support.

The city had ordered its workers to go to the line and take down the fences and move the cars. When the workers got there, looked at the situation and the hundreds of picketing activists the city workers quickly enacted their right to refuse unsafe work and the lines held.

This was an awesome show of support. Later as I stated they then showed up at the rally and cheered on our National leadership as they continued to inform and energize the hundreds in attendance.

When our afternoon bus arrived we pulled in behind the other 5 buses who were from the other hotels and we watched as the afternoon shift left the buses and the day shift filed on. Instantly we were on duty.

Tuesday’s Rally.

So around 6 pm the leadership held another rally and put it on facebook live. They talked about the success that the descent into Regina by Unifor was starting to have. There were other Unions there lending support again. This picketing and the presence of Unifor in Regina has garnered County wide attention. Actually arresting Jerry…..that made news all across the Country.

Tuesday Night

As you can see by the video things were pretty quiet on the line. All the gates, 28 of them, were staffed and all reported being quiet. I think there was back lash from the night before Police intervention and arrests and the city as well as Co-op were figuring out a new plan.

Finished the night with line intact no Police intervention and nothing in or out of that refinery. It has now started to take a financial toll on the refinery. Hopefully a few more successful days like Tuesday and they will be forced to get back to the table and bargain fairly.

Wednesday – Gate

As the video shows gate 7 , just like the other gates, is locked down. Wheels off of cars, tires on other ones flattened and at least 5 rows of fence are there to ensure Co-op gets nothing in or any thing out. Three days and counting of the refinery not being able to get product out has to be taking its toll on the refineries wallet. Lets face it we totally understand when you deal with one of these types of refineries to get their attention you have to hit them in the wallet.

The shift starts out with an overlap of day shift and afternoon shift and then a rally around 5. More dignitaries from CUPE and OPSEU have made their way to the rallies to tell the picketers that they are there and some of their members are also coming to the lines to help reinforce the blockade of the refinery.

594 Member

Here are a couple of the 594 members. They have a large presence at each gate and they are great people who are very grateful for all of our support.

Wednesday – The Air

As the video shows the refinery is surrounded and blockaded, but, we don’t control the air. Co-op has been flying in food for their captive scabs and management as well as some shift change people. It is very frustrating defending the blockade and then watching the helicopters fly over head. Oh well they are not flying product out, so 3 million dollars a day…..not today….lol

The Volunteers

These are just a few of the volunteers that I bus in and out with.  Great people who rose to the call from the National to stop this corporate greed and injustice to fellow Unifor members. As you can hear from the video these folks are from all across the Country from every sector.

Thursday’s Shift

Today was a big day. Jerry held a press conference at the Saskatchewan legislature. He did that as he was trying to meet with the Premier to pressure Co-op to get back to the table. He also met with the Police chief and had a very good meeting where they discussed the role the Police were playing in this dispute. Jerry told them they were being used by the Co-op as thugs. They had discussions about safety and Jerry was very quick to point out that the only safety issues that have happened is when the Police came to the line and made arrests. The Police must have agreed as Thursday nights shift on the line saw no Police presence.

I also spent a few hours last night with 594’s President Kevin Bittman. We went to their hall and their strike head quarters. I asked to do this so I could garner more information should we ever get to the situation where we as 848 have to be on the line. Let me tell you there was lots being done that I had not thought of or that we are prepared for. This opportunity was very beneficial and when I get back I will discuss this more with the Executive and you to ensure we start putting things that we need to into place so that god forbid we ever get there, we will be able to hit the line prepared!

The Weather

In the video you will see that the fog or freezing drizzle had set in. it was there all night and began to coat everything in ice. Although the weather was awful the spirits were high and the line held another night.

Another day of nothing in or nothing out. Co-op has to be feeling the financial hit. Beauty of the fog was the helicopters couldn’t fly in the scabs, so it truly was a nothing in nothing out day.

One day longer…..one day stronger!

Sticker

As you are aware Unifor launched a nation wide boycott of Co-op. We have placed radio ads talking about this action. We have done billboards and we have made stickers. In this picture you will see a fellow Unifor member out front of the Olive Garden in Regina and if you zoom in and look closely you will see a boycott Co-op sticker that may have been snuck on the door as we went in for lunch.

This one was snuck onto the door and did not last very long but many other business’s were proud to display them throughout the Regina area.

Friday Night

As you can see in the video the fog had lifted. What the video didn’t show very well, probably the videographer’s fault, was that because the fog lifted Co-op resumed using the helicopters to bring in supplies and scabs. It is a shame because we really do have the place on the ground surrounded.

Advocates

These little fellows were out with mom or dad and were there in the colours to support the line. It really is a friendly place as all the advocates are there to peacefully protest and picket the refinery. If it wasn’t peaceful you wouldn’t take your kids.

Shout Out

Here you see a mix of 594 members, advocates from across the Country and 594 President thanking us for the support. Good job 848.

Community Kindness

Here you will see another group from the community showing up to lend support to the locked out members. This group came in to feed the activists on the line. What they did not expect was they came to give a little and left with so much more. This group in a not for profit religious charity who has taken it upon themselves to feed those less fortunate in Regina on Sundays. When they left they left with the food that had been planned to be delivered to the line that night for them to use for Sundays meal as well as we took up a collection on the line and sent them back home with a significant donation to help them with future dinners.

A little good was met with and reciprocated with more……warms your hearts doesn’t it?

This concludes my time out there.

I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your support in allowing me to attend and to represent our local in this call to action. We know what is happening there is disrespectful and rude. This lock out did not need to happen. Bargaining is a right and they are denying our co workers their entitled rights to a fair share of the profits earned on their labour. It has to end and that is why we are there. Couple this with Friendship is a two-way street and our co workers needed our help. Us attending and participating will ensure should we ever get into an unfortunate situation like 594 is, we too will be able to reap the benefits of being part of a huge, determined organization that is called Unifor!

Saturday Night Rally

Every day there is a rally to help energize the crowd as well as to inform them of what has happened in between rallies. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people performing a tremendous amount od activities to ensure this campaign is successful. If you listen you will get a little taste of some of the activities that happened in those in-between hours.

Social Media Feed

Summary Report

What it’s about

There has been a lot of questions around what this lock out is about here in Regina. Let me try to explain it to you.

First off you need to understand that their pension is different than ours. Their pension is in their CA. They have negotiated this pension since the early 70’s.The reason this distinction is so important is that this is something they sacrificed for over the past rounds of negotiations to ensure the share of profits they got from their labour went into protecting their future. They took less money and they took less gains in other areas to ensure their deferred wages was there for them in the future.

Ours is not something we negotiate. It is solely controlled by Shell.

Their pension was fully funded by the company and was indexed for cost of living as well as it was a 2% multiplier. Meaning if you worked 30 years you would multiply that by the 2 and receive 60 percent of what you were making as your pension.

In 2016 their management came after their pension. They forced the Union to concede to a DC plan for all new hires from then on. Management told them if they did this that all people presently on the DB pension would be left alone and allowed to retire on that pension.

Fast forward to now and you have management at the table going after the DB pension again. Don’t get caught up into the fact that they only want to change it to a 1.75% factor as opposed to a 2%. The rhetoric that it just the “Industry Standard” is something they want you to believe so you will not rally to protect these folks. They want you to buy into it and be part of the race to the bottom. We should not be thinking they should be tore down and get what we get……no. we should be supporting them and then demanding we reap that same benefit as well.

Another attack is now the company wants to take away the fact they were fully funding this pension and now make the worker fund this pension to a tune of 11%. This is a huge concession. If you recall the National was only 11.75% over 4 years. In year 1 of the contract without any other concession these guys have to pay back 11.25% just to keep what they have.

Now take away the indexing so there is no cost of living anymore and you can easily see that the whole wage increase they are going to get is gone just to keep the pension they were told would be left alone.

The company also wants to wrap up the savings plan that they have been supplying as part of the workers total compensation package. The plan could allow up to 6.5% company contribution if the worker put 10% into this fund.

Another 6.5% gone.

So when you add this up the workers at the Co-op refinery will take a 17 plus % decrease to their compensation in year 1 alone. All while the company is making 3 million dollars a day.

This is a fight against greed. This is a fight against these billionaires and their perception that they are more powerful than us the collective. We have to win this fight as you can rest assured that other corporations will by anxiously watching and waiting to see if they too will be able to oppress us the next round.

Local 594 gets it. Our National Union leadership gets it and that is why they are making the stand here in Regina. This is why I am here. Don’t kid yourself, this is our fight it just happens that it is being fought here in Regina!

 

In Solidarity

Mark Mathewson

President Unifor local 848