Windsor-Essex Community, Canadian and U.S. Salt Workers Step Up Expressions of Support

Windsor-Essex Community, Canadian and U.S. Salt Workers Step Up Expressions of Support

With the strike at Windsor Salt in its 13th week, people from the Windsor-Essex community continue to join the picket lines and salt workers from plants owned by the same U.S. firm, Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc., are openly standing with their comrades in Windsor.

Last week, more contingents of workers and community members from Windsor-Essex came out to spend time on the picket lines, sign the mural at the evaporation plant and take up the strike as their own. Delegations included active and retired workers from different sectors that come during the day in groups. They are joined by young workers who have started coming on their days off, or after work, to join the lines.

In addition to the support from the Windsor-Essex labour movement, workers from Windsor-Essex are actively informing the entire labour movement about the significance of the salt workers’ resistance. At the annual convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) held in Montreal from May 8-12, which brings together representatives of trade unions from across Canada, Mario Spagnuolo, President of the Windsor and District Labour Council and of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, informed delegates about the salt workers’ fight and encouraged everyone to show their support. This is all the more significant given that Unifor, the union which represents the striking salt workers, does not officially participate in the CLC. Having a representative of Ontario elementary teachers, whose pension funds are invested in the strike-breaking activities of Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc., raise the strike as a matter of concern for the entire labour movement in Canada reflects the values Ontario teachers hold in high esteem.

Salt miners in Pugwash, Nova Scotia with Unifor Local 823 have erected a large billboard outside of their facility that expresses their full support of workers in Windsor represented by Unifor Local 240 and 1959. The billboard is a clear indication that despite having been manipulated by Windsor Salt into accepting a contract in 2021, that they did not accept at first, the Pugwash workers are seeing that the stand being taken in Windsor upholds their dignity as well.

Similarly, workers from the U.S. who work in operations owned by Morton Salt, the parent company of Windsor Salt, are finding ways to show their support. Workers from Morton Salt’s Ohio operations joined the workers on their picket lines and signed the mural.

On Friday May 12, the company indicated that it would come back to the negotiating table. It walked away on April 27, claiming it had to focus on finding culprits in an incident it insinuated the union was involved with, despite zero evidence. The workers are prepared to negotiate at any time but after two weeks of the company’s refusal to negotiate they are not expecting much. During the break in negotiations, private investigators were sent to workers’ homes by nobody knows who to collect information on the alleged incident and offer a $50,000 reward for information. Despite such things, the company has made no headway in painting the union and workers as thugs. The company is now coming back to the negotiating table at a time the contract of the salt workers at the company’s evaporation facility in Silver Springs, New York is set to expire on May 31. Yet to be seen is if the company will try to pit one set of workers against the other, the workers say. Or, some say, perhaps the company is in a hurry to send their union-busting lawyer to Silver Springs and settle with the Windsor Salt workers who are a thorn in their side. Whatever the case may be, the workers are ever ready to negotiate a contract which respects them and upholds their rights.