OTTAWA, June 8 -- The president of Canada's largest media union, Dave Coles, is calling on the president of Quebecor to review its sudden decision to close its Southeast Marine Drive operation in Vancouver, a profitable printing plant that employs nearly 200 workers.
"I am surprised and disappointed that Quebecor has decided to abandon its employees," says the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union president in a letter to Wes W. Lucas, president and CEO of Quebecor.
Meanwhile, the members of CEP Local 525G are still absorbing the implications of the closure, expected later this year.
The plant, in operation at that location for more than 50 years, prints a host of familiar magazines as well as products destined for other markets and the popular new commuter daily, "24 Hrs." It employs 130 unionized workers and about 60 non-union staff.
"This facility is profitable," says union Local president Alex Charles. "The employer called all of the staff together to congratulate them on meeting their sales targets for the year - by April - and two days later assembled them again to tell them the place was closing."
"While plant closures are not uncommon, most involve facilities that were no longer profitable," continued Charles. "That's what frustrates us about this situation. The employer's negotiators were absolutely up front with us about it. They said they were closing the plant because they don't want to do business under this collective agreement any more".
"That's a pretty powerful admission," Charles observed. "Even though they're still getting their profit, they're closing the place because they think the workers there make too much. That's just spiteful. It's a lousy way to treat the people that have been generating your company's wealth".
"This highly profitable employer is simply trying to send a message to working people that it's okay for corporations to make good money, but not for workers," said Charles. "That's not going to wash in Canada in the twenty-first century. Our members won't be pushed backwards, to face tomorrow's prices with yesterday's wages. What is this company thinking?"