Two hundred and fifty workers at Windsor Salt have been on strike against union busting since February 17, 2023. The workers, represented by Unifor locals 1959 and 240, have been surviving on $300 a week strike pay and side gigs, while the company has brought in scabs to replace them during the dispute.
Workers fighting for their jobs
Windsor Salt was purchased in 2021 by Stone Canyon Industries, a California company who has worked to secure a near monopoly on the North American salt supply. In its first ever bargaining with the Windsor Salt workers they have attempted to threaten the very existence of the union.
The workers’ fight is a fight for their very jobs. The company is trying to get concessions to hire temp agencies to contract work at Windsor Salt.
Face-to-face negotiations have not taken place since April when Windsor Salt alleges that three people wearing masks, armed with bats entered the mine and assaulted one of those replacement workers. Representatives of Unifor condemned the violence and affirmed that its members had no part in the incident.
Since then, the company has shamefully suspended bargaining while running the mine with scab workers. Windsor Salt has offered $50,000 to anyone who can bring information to the police to identify and prosecute the alleged attackers.
Ford sides with the bosses
Labour Minister, Monte McNaughton, who has spent the past few years trying to appear supportive of blue collar workers in Ontario, has agreed to meet with union representatives. Meanwhile, his government continues to support the use of scab workers.
The ongoing Windsor Salt dispute prompted NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky to put forward anti-scab legislation (legislation making it illegal to hire replacement workers during a strike or lockout). Anti-scab legislation existed briefly in Ontario under the NDP from 1992 until 1995, when Mike Harris’ Tories repealed it.
Gretzky’s anti-scab bill marks the 16th time since 1995 that anti-scab legislation has been introduced in the legislature. All of the previous attempts to re-introduce this legislation have failed. Gretzky’s Anti-Scab Labour Act passed first reading in March, but there has been no subsequent movement on the Bill.
Unifor is organizing a Day of Action for Windsor Salt workers Thursday, June 29. Workers will rally at the green space behind Windsor City Hall at 12 noon and people unable to attend are encouraged to show their support on social media using #SolidarityWindsorSalt.
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