QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West) was joined by NDP colleagues France Gelinas, Jamie West, Wayne Gates, Jennifer French and Unifor local 240 and 1959 Windsor Salt Mine workers pushing for the Conservative government to pass NDP anti-scab labour legislation known as “The Anti-Scab Labour Act, 2023” to protect workers in Windsor-Essex and across the province from being replaced with temporary workers during labour disputes. This is the 16th time the NDP has introduced this bill and it’s time to make it the law. The Anti-Scab Labour Act, 2023 would prohibit the use of replacement workers, known as scab workers, during a lockout or strike, except in the case of emergencies.
“Ontario workers need and deserve anti-scab legislation. It is appalling that in Ontario we still have a system that allows employers to lock out workers then use replacement or scab workers to do their jobs. It undermines workers’ rights to a fair and free collective bargaining process. Recently, Highbury Canco in Leamington used scab workers to drag out a labour dispute for 23 days, most of which the employer wouldn’t bargain in good faith with the union, UFCW local 175” stated MPP Lisa Gretzky.
Workers deserve to be respected and protected. Gretzky said, “We must bring in anti-scab labour legislation in Ontario. It will shorten labour disputes, reduce safety risks at workplaces and make the bargaining process fair for everyone involved. I am honoured to represent Windsor, a strong labour town with an incredible work force and community. I know they, and workers across the province, will benefit from this anti-scab labour legislation.”
Along with MPP Gretzky, local Windsor Salt Mine workers of Unifor Locals 240 and 1959 echoed the importance of this bill. “Since the beginning of unions, it is known that the use of replacement workers has never helped resolve labour disputes. In fact, the use of replacement workers has compounded the labour disputes. This action instead carries the poison of resentment into our communities and province that lingers many years after an agreement is reached” stated Jodi Nesbitt, President of Unifor Local 240.
MPP Gretzky also questioned the Premier on anti-scab legislation during Question Period on Wednesday as local Windsor Salt Mine workers sat watching in the members gallery at Queen’s Park.
“The Conservatives have had many opportunities to support anti-scab labour legislation but didn’t. You can’t claim you’re working for workers and vote against anti-scab legislation. Speaker, Windsor Salt workers and workers across Ontario want to know, will the Premier stand up for collective bargaining rights, stand up for workers, and finally pass anti-scab legislation, yes or no?”.
Bill Wark-President Unifor local 1959:
“Anti-scab legislation is essential in balancing the employer employee relationship. When employers hire unionized employees they recognize the positive potential that the employees will deliver to their respective companies. When employers have the ability to circumvent the collective bargaining process it only serves to negatively impact the benefits of a well trained, predictable and stable workforce that a collectively bargained contract brings to the workers, but more importantly to the economy.”
Scott Jackson, Chief Steward Highbury Canco UFCW 175:
“During the labour dispute at Highbury Canco the employer used scab workers to do bargaining unit’s work. This included management and new hires. It was extremely disheartening for all three shifts of picketers to see the scab workers being bused in. It became more and more dangerous on the picket line as drivers became more and more aggressive while they waited their five minutes in line. The OPP were called 8 times over the course of the strike, fortunately no one was hurt. With the assistance of our union president, Shawn Haggerty, and the Government conciliator, we were eventually able to get back to the bargaining table with the employer and hammer out an agreement. Tempers did rise on both sides and even though we are now back to work , we are still dealing with the fallout created by this. We are still struggling daily with the animosity and chaos this labour dispute created and I imagine it will continue.”