The United Steelworkers (USW) has launched a radio advertising campaign aimed at ending a year long strike at Toronto beer can manufacturer Crown Holdings.
Compelling, 30-second spots encourage consumers to “buy bottles, not cans” when purchasing beer, to support factory workers who have been on the picket line for 13 months.
The ads target beer drinkers in the GTA and in cities across Ontario on country and rock stations that reach almost one million listener’s daily.
The “Buy Bottles, Not Cans” ads represent the biggest advertising campaign in the USW’s history. The ads promote a consumer boycott of cans produced by Crown Holdings, but do not discourage purchases of beer – in bottles.
The ad campaign reflects a David vs. Goliath struggle between a small group of factory workers and a powerful, union-busting global corporation.
Crown Holdings, a U.S.-based multinational, forced its 120 Toronto factory workers on strike in September 2013 by demanding massive concessions. Crown has refused to negotiate a fair settlement and has indicated it wants to get rid of most of its Toronto unionized employees even if the dispute is resolved.
Crown has been operating its Toronto factory with replacement workers who are bused across the picket line every day to make cans for major beer brands, probably including Molson, Coors, Labatt, Budweiser and Moosehead.
The USW has informed all Crown customers that strike-breakers are being used to make cans for their products, but to the union’s knowledge none of these major brands have ceased purchasing Crown cans.
“We fight for our members when we see injustice and what Crown Holdings is doing to its employees is among the worst we’ve seen,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.
“This company has shown utter contempt for the bargaining process and is waging an all-out attack on our members,” Neumann said. “We believe the public will be moved to help them with the simple act of buying beer in bottles.”
“These workers are hurting, their families are hurting and all they want is to get back to work,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.
“Some of these families are about to lose their homes, others tell us their kids have had to quit college or university. We can all help these families simply by choosing to buy bottled beer instead of cans,” Warren said.
The USW has launched a YouTube video to accompany the radio ads, which are running in Toronto, Hamilton, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Kingston, London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and Niagara Region.
The USW has filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, asserting Crown has avoided reaching a collective agreement by repeatedly changing its positions and tabling unjustified proposals designed for rejection by union members.
For more information on the campaign to end the strike at Crown Holdings, go towww.takebacksnomore.ca.