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LEAMINGTON, Ont. – A request by the Town of Leamington for its municipal workers to reopen their collective agreement will only divert resources and attention away from efforts to save the community’s main employer, the Heinz Tomato processing plant.
“Now is not the time for our community to lose focus,” said Sean Hannigan, President of Local 528.4 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 528.4), which represents 14 Municipal water and waste water workers.
“Everyone—our Town Council, municipal workers, farmers across Essex and Kent Counties, and the entire community—need to roll up our sleeves and do everything in our power to save the plant and make it a going concern. Reopening a signed collective agreement and bargaining a new one will only divert our energy and attention from finding real solutions to the very serious challenges our community faces,” he added.
Following last month’s announcement by Heinz that it intended to close the 90-year-old processing plant in June, officials from the Town of Leamington asked Local 528.4 to reopen their collective agreement, which has one year remaining before it expires.
At a membership meeting yesterday, members agreed with their local Union executive that reopening their signed contract is not the answer.
“We’re talking about 14 workers, and any cost savings would be far out of proportion to the impact of the plant’s closure on the community’s tax base,” said Hannigan.
“All of us need to come together to find a solution. All of us need to keep our eyes on the prize, which is ensuring the plant continues to operate. That’s something all of us—workers, farmers, politicians and members of the community throughout Essex and Kent Counties and the City of Windsor—need to be involved in. Together, we have six months to collectively find a solution,” he added.
For more information, please contact:
Sean Hannigan, President CUPE 528.4, 519-792-9731
Kevin Wilson, CUPE Communications, 416-821-6641