Thomas pledges OPSEU’s support to Unifor’s locked-out refinery workers

Smokey Thomas at Unifor rally in Regina

During a rally in Regina for locked out Unifor Local 594 members who work at the Co-op Refinery, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas pledged the support of OPSEU’s 165,000 members.

“This is one of the most egregious acts of greed I have ever seen,” said Thomas. “OPSEU has a longstanding friendship with Unifor. And whenever a worker is under attack, my union and I are always there. No matter what.”

Co-op Refinery – which makes more than $3 million a day – locked out its workers more than a month ago after they refused to accept deep concessions to their pension plan.

Ever since, the proud Unifor members have been enduring frigid cold on 24-hour picket lines around the plant. On Monday, Jan 20, Unifor President Jerry Dias and other Unifor members were arrested on those lines.

“I challenge all the other labour leaders across the country,” said Thomas. “If we don’t stop this employer, who’s next?”

Thomas told the crowd that he’d just gotten off the phone with OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida to make arrangements to send another 50 to 70 OPSEU members to help bolster the Unifor picket lines.

“As long as you can find a place for them to sleep, they’ll stay as long as they’re needed,” Thomas said, drawing laughs.

Thomas said it’s crucial that workers across the country support the refinery workers.

“If we can beat these greedy folks here, perhaps the next group of workers won’t have to go through the same thing,” he said.

“And to the folks who locked you out, I say shame on you. It’s called karma – one of these days going to come back and bite you.”

Unifor is calling for a boycott of all the co-ops across the country that are associated with the refinery. In Ontario, the associated co-ops are:

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