Produce workers set to return to bargaining
Striking workers at the Ontario Food Terminal are set to return to the bargaining table Monday over their first collective agreement — with job security, fair wages and scheduling hours of work “still a sticking point.”
Roughly 25 employees with Teamster Local Union 419 at Ippolito Produce are affected by the strike which began Tuesday.
“We’re withholding our labour,” said Ken Dean, a representative for the local union. “That’s certainly got their attention.”
Ippolito Produce said in a statement that collective bargaining between it and the union came to an impasse earlier this week.
Apart from not working, the pickets are intermittently stopping trucks and cars as they approach the terminal, which is the main produce distribution centre for all of Toronto.
A memo by the Ontario Food Terminal Board details the agreed-upon picket protocol: at the Queensway Entrance, every fifth vehicle is stopped for two minutes, unless there are less than five vehicles in the lineup, at which point the pickets can stop every vehicle for two minutes.
“We want to disrupt business, frankly,” Dean said of the tactic. “And by limiting access in and out of the food terminal, (we) will apply some pressure to the employer to come to the table and they’ll look at the demands that we’re asking for.”
Teamsters Local Union 419 handles contracts with several other companies at the Ontario Food Terminal as well as Ippolito Produce.
This isn’t the first time this union has fielded a strike at the food terminal: in April last year, employees of Fresh Taste Produce assembled to strike after they said they hadn’t had a pay raise in 14 years. With files from Brennan Doherty and Jenna Moon