Ridout Barron


Potato chip factory workers on strike

Employees at the Covered Bridge Potato Chips factory are on strike in protest against the terms of their first contract with their employer. The unionized workers are a part of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1288P. They have been in a position of legal strike for about six months now.

The potato chip factory, located in Hartland, has approximately 16 unionized workers outside it holding their picket signs. According to the union, however, the plant is still in operation and not all the employees are on strike.

The contract dispute, which prompted the strike relates to seniority concerns during scheduling, layoffs, call-backs and wages. Most of the people employed at the facility are earning minimum wage.

One of the workers in the picket line said that one of problems relates to minimum wage. She said that in five years of employment, she has only received a raise of 10 cents.

According to the union, the potato chip factory is engaging in unfair labour practices and it has filed an official complaint to that regard. In June 2015, after conciliation failed, a mediator was brought in to bring the parties together. During that meeting, the president of the factory said that he would not cave to the union's demands, and he cited various things the company had done and was planning to do in order to benefit its workers. He said that he would give the workers what they wanted but not in a union environment. However, if the strike continues, supplies of potato chips manufactured at the Covered Bridge factory may soon be in very short supply.

No matter which side of a labor strike one is on, it may be helpful to consult with a lawyer who can offer an objective opinion and advice about dealing with the situation. A qualified labor law lawyer can do a lot to improve relations between a company and its striking work force.

Source: CBC, "Covered Bridge Potato Chips workers stage strike," Jan. 05, 2016

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