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OPSEU members boost rally at Kenora Co-op Gas Bar

Kenora Coop rally. Members holding signs 'Boycott co-op'

A group of OPSEU members joined a rally on Feb. 3 at the Kenora Co-op Gas Bar in support of the 800 refinery workers in Unifor Local 594 who have been locked-out since early December.

Chanting “Another day longer, another day stronger,” and “Three million a day? Not today!”, the OPSEU members joined local Unifor and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association members to call attention to the plight of the workers at the Co-op Refinery in Regina. The rally was covered by Kenora Online.

The refinery makes more than $3 million a day but locked out its workers when they refused to accept deep cuts to their pension plan.

“The fight for good pensions affects everybody,” said OPSEU Region 7 Regional Vice-President Ed Arvelin, who was part of the rally. “I’d say 90 per cent of the customers at the gas bar stopped to ask about the rally. And once they found out about the pension cuts these workers are facing, they were very supportive.”

The refinery is owned by Federated Co-ops Ltd., which is associated with the Kenora Co-op Gas bar and three other co-ops in Ontario:

  • East Manitoba & Ontario Propane, which has locations in Dryden and Kenora
  • Vermilion Bay Food Store
  • The Dryden Gas Bar

Arvelin and a number of other OPSEU members will be taking part in a similar rally on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 9 am to 2 pm at the Dryden Co-op Gas Bar.

Dozens of OPSEU members — including President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida — travelled to Regina to help bolster the refinery workers’ picket lines after Unifor President Jerry Dias and another dozen Unifor members were arrested on those lines.