SELKIRK, Manitoba--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The cruel lockout of its workforce by Black Cat Wear Parts in Selkirk, Man., has entered its third week.
The 60 members of United Steelworkers Local 9074-12, were shut out of the plant at midnight on June 19, after the company rejected the union’s proposal for a two-year wage freeze.
“We made a very reasonable offer and showed clearly that the union was at the table to bargain, but Black Cat decided to lock us out instead of negotiating,” said Tony Sproule, USW Area Co-ordinator and lead negotiator. “The company is saying ‘our way or the highway’ – that’s not collective bargaining.”
Owned by the Alberta-based Buxton family, Black Cat Wear Parts sent a lawyer to the bargaining table to deliver its message. The employees were shocked to be treated with such disrespect after working tirelessly for the company through the pandemic, as “essential” workers.
Sproule called it a “slap in the face” for Black Cat to put its workforce out on the street at the first opportunity, after having praised them for their commitment throughout COVID-19.
The union is concerned that the company is taking advantage of a Manitoba law that allows either party to apply to end a strike or lockout after 60 days and have an arbitrator impose a one-year contract.
“We could have negotiated a one-year rollover agreement at the bargaining table,” said Sproule.
United Steelworkers District 3 represents approximately 45,000 members across Western and Northern Canada, including 7,000 workers in Manitoba. USW is the largest, most diverse industrial union in North America.