Special Lockout Edition | December 2019
This is the most critical junction in the history of our Union. It has been a long road to get to where we are right now. It’s time to begin our fight. The Company has given us 48-hour notice to lock us out of the plant.  A plant that we have been running and maintaining for 77 years. A plant that the workers have saved from freeze ups, large scale fires, vapour releases and violent explosions. We are being rewarded for our loyalty with a “choice”: to not work or to agree to major concessions.

The Union is not being greedy. We are only trying to protect what we have, nothing more. Make no mistake, this battle is about more than money, it is about labour peace. 

Collective bargaining is always high stakes, but this round is about so much more. It is about ending this vicious cycle of putting your life on hold every three years.  It is about stopping the disrespect from the Company demanding major concessions during record profits. It is about stopping a scab camp being built in order to lock us out. It is about our future.

Our Union came to the table with optimism. A fair deal should not have been out of the question with our Company’s strong financial successes. Still our Union compromised and proposed to take a concession and allow members the ability to switch to the DC plan.

During this round of bargaining our objective was to ensure pension security for our members. This meant allowing members to choose which pension plan they want to be on, and protecting that choice. This compromise is a concession and still not good enough for the Company.

We have been planning and saving for this moment for three years and all your work will pay off as we enter this battle with the greedy Company. This battle is not only about the issues, it is about respect, it is about protecting our future at the Co-op Refinery. It is about pushing back on a false narrative of sustainability during times of record profits.
Now is our time to stand up and say, enough is enough. The constant attacks need to end. 
We need to stand together before we lose the ability to stand up at all.

Your calmness and professionalism in the lead up to this moment is commendable. You have stayed engaged and informed throughout the process and have made the bargaining committee’s job much easier in defending the attacks. The backing of the membership allows us to speak as one voice with the support of 730. Thank you.

We are entering an unknown and scary moment in our careers. Not being allowed to work by your employer and not receiving a regular paycheck is daunting. We are a family of 730 members. There will be lots of highs and lows in the coming months. We need to ensure we encourage each other when we are down. We need to look after each other and stick together as a team.  There will be some who struggle emotionally and financially. We need to be there for them because tomorrow you could need that help too.

We have ways to make extra money if you and your family are hurting. Keep the UCP committee informed if you are struggling. We want everyone to be supported, if you do not need extra money, please allow those that do, the ability to pick up extra picketing shifts. In turn, if you will not be working your shifts, make sure they are posted as available.

The battle we are entering can only be won as a cohesive group. The only thing the Company cannot account for is us, the members. I have seen it for 23 years; our solidarity is unbelievable, unwavering and amazing to be apart of. The passion we have for our work and the Co-op system is directly related to the success of the Co-op Refinery and FCL. In the event of a lock out, we must turn the passion for our work into a passionate fight for our future at the Refinery.

This fight is about us resetting our workplace. A fight for respect. We just want to do our jobs and work for a company that does not create a stressful work environment every three years. This is a fight that will hopefully allow people to buy a house, start a family, and start building their future. 

Our future begins now!

Your President

Kevin Bittman 
All labour disputes end at some point, some last 2 hours, some last 2 years, but no matter how long they last, the landscape is always radically changed. In the lead up to a large-scale labour dispute like the one coming in 48 hours, it's hard to imagine what working at this plant will look like after this dispute ends. Once we are on the picket line there are going to be some difficult emotions to deal with. There will be resentment for some of your co-workers, your managers and especially the FCL executives who have forced us on the picket line. 

The reality is your co-workers and managers will most likely still be working at the plant after this is done. The FCL executives who put them, and us, through this will either be fired or will simply retire to their houses in Arizona or Palm Springs, and relish in their manipulation of you the worker (both Union and Management). They will enjoy their massive bonuses and severance packages that we all earned for them, regardless of their reckless abandon in putting us on the picket line.

These FCL executives are the reason this all happened. Their ego and their decision making have been what will put you on the line for a long time. They don’t care about hurting you, your family and your friends. FCL executives are the ones who have put you on the street. These people are making upwards of a million dollars per year and they are trying to destroy your financial future. They don’t care about you and they don’t respect you. Their financial future is set for their families for generations.

It will be awkward when we return for not only you but for the managers who have been forced to do your jobs. Remember the company has forced the managers to do this. They didn’t want to; we could very well be bargaining for their ability to keep their pension.

All labour disputes end. When this labour dispute does, regardless of what happens, we will have to return to work. Some people will quit. Some people will never recover from the disrespect the company has shown them.

Vicious attacks like the Co-op has done to this membership and the managers at the plant will have long lasting effects. It will put a workforce (both union and management) lower in morale than we were before, which is hard to imagine. 

It will be us left picking up the pieces. It will be us who need to get past the dispute and move on. Life will go on and we will get back to working together and resolving our issues. If FCL thinks they can continue to operate this way and bargain in this manner it will result in the destruction of the retail system and the downfall of the Co-op refinery.

People can only take so much.  

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