Chris Aylward

Every pitcher tells a story, don't it?

Chris on the line2.JPG

Here I am on the Rock, aka Newfoundland, talking to some folks from our sister union, NAPE, out on the picket line. These are brewery workers, members of Local 7004, fifty in all, who have been on strike since late March, suffering a serious case of the Labatt Blues.

Labatt is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which pulls in an annual revenue of $40 billion. After tax last year they netted $9.4 billion. That’s more than the annual Gross Domestic Product of sixty or so countries.

But Labatt came to the table pleading poverty, demanding concessions on pensions and medical benefits, and a raft of other takeaways as well, including a two-tier wage system. The workers know how to read a balance sheet, and weren’t having any of that. So the company, seeing their resolve, ordered them to train replacement workers before their contract had even expired.

That set off a brief so-called wildcat strike on March 25. The courts ordered their picket line removed on April 9. The workers proceeded to vote unanimously for a legal strike a day later, and they’ve stayed out ever since.

There’s a Facebook page. Go take a look.

Labatt has hired a private company, AFIMAC Security, to “monitor” and film the strikers. It built a fence to protect the scabs. It’s refused to have anything to do with the Local since May 13.

Labatt doesn’t want a collective agreement. It wants to break the union.

Meanwhile, Labatt beer is now scab beer. Somehow, that’s not a thirst-inducing thought, even on a warm day.

Unsurprisingly, there’s now a boycott on. The Canadian Brewery Workers Alliance (CBWA), consisting of Locals at seven Labatt breweries across Canada, is on board, and support has been reported internationally, in Argentina, the UK and Belgium.

All of the beers brewed by the parent company are on the boycott list, in fact: Budweiser, Bud Light, Becks, Stella Artois, Labatt Blue, Labatt Lite, Blue Star, Alexander Keith’s, Labatt Maximum Ice, Jockey Club, Hoegaarden, Michelob, Kokanee, and Leffe.

Hot summer ahead? A few jugs of brew among friends sound like a plan? Come on, there’s plenty of other brands to choose from. And by choosing them, you’re not only quenching your thirst, but supporting workers who’ve been on strike for nearly three months just to keep what they have.

The alternative isn’t so tasty. Think about it.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Aylward published on June 25, 2013 8:29 AM.

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