Workers Reject Zero Offer – Steelworkers Take Action for Fairness
TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After steadfastly working through the pandemic at a bottle-packaging company, workers at Rexplas in Toronto have soundly rejected the company’s final offer on April 23, 2021 that opened with 0%.
"These workers are sick and tired of being treated like dirt by this company. They have stood up together and said ‘No’ in a resounding rejection of the company's offer," said Carolyn Egan, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8300, that represents the Rexplas workers.
As a last resort, the 35 workers began their legal strike at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 26.
The workers, a vast majority of whom are racialized women, work in quality control, packaging and shipping, and have worked for the company from anywhere from five to 35 years.
Rexplas’s parent company, Richard’s Packaging, continues to pay monthly dividends to shareholders. It’s profitable and its net income has increased by $28 million since 2018. The company’s annual report notes that it has profited from the pandemic – reporting a 21% revenue increase directly related to business associated with COVID-19.
Rexplas’s final contract offer opened with 0% from Oct. 1, 2019, followed by 1% retroactive to Oct. 1, 2020, and 1% in each of the next two years.
“What do I call that? Insulting!” said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director. “It’s no wonder these workers rejected this contract. Not only does it fail to recognize their work throughout the pandemic, it doesn’t get close to covering increases in the cost of living.”
“These workers have been dedicated throughout the pandemic. Unlike other workers during the period, they didn’t get any pandemic premium pay. They deserve better than zero,” said Warren.
“I say to Rexplas, return to the bargaining table and treat your workforce with the dignity and respect they deserve. Let’s get a fair contract for these loyal employees,” he said.