Brewery workers vote 93% in favour of unionization in a response to low wages and lack of transparency from management.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 26, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Turning Point Brewing Company workers are leading the way in a resurgence of brewery union organizing activity in British Columbia. The workers are joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2. This represents one of the most significant brewery unionizations in the province in decades.
Neil Singh works as a Logistics Operator for Turning Point. He explains the factors leading to overwhelming support for a union at his workplace: “When the pandemic started, sales skyrocketed by something like 80 percent. To compensate us for the extra effort due to increased demand, we were paid a pandemic wage top up, but it was ended after 2 months for no apparent reason. Vancouver is an expensive city and it was insulting.” Singh continues, “Turning Point workers just want the same respect as other union members across Canada.”
Inconsistent treatment by management was another major concern. The over 60 Turning Point workers have long experienced uneven wage increases. Some new employees were receiving a raise, while others hadn’t seen a significant wage boost even after 20 years of working for the brewery. Especially since the beer conglomerate Labatt acquired Turning Point in 2015, workers were feeling more powerless than ever.
Glenn Solomon, who works in Blending, says: “Unionizing will give us a voice that will be heard, provide us with due process and at least some form of protection. We won’t have to wonder if there will be any sort of wage increase every year as it will all be spelled out in black and white in a collective bargaining agreement. A union offers us our best opportunity to be compensated fairly and treated respectfully.”
These issues are not unique to the Turning Point Brewing Company; they are widespread in the craft brewery industry. This has prompted SEIU Local 2 to invest more resources into organizing the craft and independent brewery sector. Dave Bridger is the President of SEIU Local 2. He joined SEIU Local 2 while working as a brewery worker at Labatt. Bridger says: “The pandemic has once again highlighted the poor working conditions in the brewery industry, and SEIU Local 2 is stepping up to reach out to these workers.” He continues, “SEIU Local 2 has its roots in the brewery industry. It was established as a brewery workers’ union in 1902. We are reconnecting with our roots, and we’ve committed substantial resources to help craft brewery workers form a union at their workplaces over the next few years.” Bridger is also involved in supporting brewery workers as the president of the Canadian Brewery Council.
Singh is looking forward to collective bargaining and winning better working conditions for himself and his coworkers at Turning Point. He encourages other brewery workers across the province and nation to pursue unionization: “You deserve respect. Everyone should try to form a union at work. It’s the only way your voice will be heard.”
SEIU Local 2 represents workers across British Columbia and Canada in the liquor production, distribution and retail industry including Mission Hill Winery, JAK’s Beer Wine Spirits, Molson, Granville Island, and Okanagan Springs.