Canadian refinery workers and labor unions boycott Petro-Canada, 2007

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Timing
Time Period:  
September 25,
2008
to
December 29,
2008
Location and Goals
Country: 
Canada
Location City/State/Province: 
Quebec
Goals: 
To end the lockout of workers.

To obtain a more agreeable contract.

 

On November 17, 2007, Petro-Canada locked refinery workers of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworks (CEP) Union Local 175 out of the refinery. For several decades, Petro-Canada negotiated a pattern agreement with the CEP. This agreement covered wages, shift premiums, holidays, and length of the agreement. All remaining issues were left for the local union and company to determine individually. At the Petro-Canada refinery in Montreal, management decided to break the pattern by demanding a six-year agreement rather than the typical three-year agreement. Furthermore, the company insisted on the elimination of a full-time union health and security position and created shorter safety training periods. According to CEP President David Coles, the union attempted to meet the needs for a major new capital project, but Petro-Canada refused to recognize the National Bargaining settlement or end the lockout. Management workers stepped into various positions to maintain operations during the lockout. Many of the locked out workers were young men and women with only a few years of seniority.

The refinery workers asked Quebecers to boycott the company’s gas stations in support of their labor dispute. On October 28, 2008, Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labor Congress (CLC), announced a country-wide boycott of Petro-Canada’s gas stations and many consumers decided to participate as well. Concluding the announcement, Georgetti stated, “If Petro-Canada wants to hurt these workers, then we’ll see how they feel when 3.2 million workers return the favor.” The CLC announced the boycott 21 days before the one-year anniversary of the lock-out.

On November 21 and 22, members of the CEP picketed Petro-Canada gas stations throughout Ontario in solidarity with the locked out members. Other local unions held pickets on November 24, where they held signs and handed out pamphlets.

The boycott was a successful in decreasing company sales by twenty percent, but they still had not achieved their goals, so the struggle continued and was a central focus of the Canadian Auto Workers’ Council, where the protesters urged the delegates to join the boycott. Georgetti encouraged the delegates to support the workers not only via boycotts but also by picketing gas stations and providing financial support to the locked-out workers.

Finally, on December 29, the refinery voted 94.6% to accept a new agreement that ended the lockout. The three-year agreement included wage increases, a $4000 bonus, vacation benefits averaging $6000 per worker for 2008, and $3800 per employee profit sharing for 2007. The workers returned to the refinery on January 12, 2009.

Research Notes
Sources: 
"Boycott Petro Canada." TCRC 295 Toronto. 08 Oct. 2008. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://www.tcrc295.com/TCRC_News_Sept_28_2008_1.htm>.

"Canadian Labour Calls for National Petro-Canada Boycott | Canadian Auto Workers | CAW." Welcome to CAW - TCA Canada. 01 Nov. 2008. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://www.caw.ca/en/4700.htm>.

Cilliers, Roland. "Local Union Pickets Petro-Canada in Support of Locked-out Workers." Fort McMurray Today [Alberta] 24 Nov. 2008, News sec. Print.

"CLC Ends Petro Canada Boycott." Canadian Union of Public Employees | CUPE. 07 Jan. 2009. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://cupe.ca/unions/petro-canada-boycott-ends>.

"Epic Struggle at Petro Canada Secures National Bargaining in Energy Sector." Market News Publishing 29 Dec. 2008. Print.

"ICEM - Canadian Labour Declares National Boycott of Petro-Canada at CEP Convention." International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions. 03 Nov. 2008. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://www.icem.org/en/78-ICEM-InBrief/2815-Canadian-Labour-Declares-National-Boycott-of-Petro-Canada-at-CEP-Convention>.

News, Cbc. "Boycott Petro-Canada, Say Locked-out Workers in Montreal - Montreal - CBC News." CBC.ca - Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. 26 Sept. 2008. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2008/09/26/mtl-petrocanada0926.html>.

"Support Boycott of Petro Canada | Canadian Auto Workers | CAW." Welcome to CAW - TCA Canada. 06 Dec. 2008. Web. Apr. 2011. <http://www.caw.ca/en/5258.htm>.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Aly Passanante, 27/04/2011