TORONTO – More than 800 activists shut down the financial heart of Toronto, closing King and Bay streets today. CUPW, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council and United Steelworkers joined forces in a solidarity rally for the Occupy Toronto movement featuring support for Infinity Rubber workers, taking aim at BMO's financial support of the rubber manufacturer.
Calling for BMO to stop financing the union-busting company, speakers rousing the crowd included OFL President Sid Ryan, USW District 6 Staff Representative Myles Sullivan, Steelworkers Toronto Area Council President Carolyn Egan, Fernando Silva, a USW member and Infinity Rubber worker as well as CUPW National President Denis Lemelin.
"We are still on strike because the government is allowing this company to hire agency workers, taking our jobs," said Silva. "We are entering our third winter in this fight. But with your support, we'll get through it," he said.
J. Goss + Associates Video: USW member and Infinity Rubber worker Fernando Silva speaks at the Occupy Toronto rally in Toronto's financial district.
"The 23-month strike at Infinity Rubber, now one of the longest in Toronto's history, shows that attacks on workers and decent jobs are fully supported by finance capital," said Lemelin.
The rally is part of the USW's effort to bring public attention to the financing of Infinity Rubber by BMO. This is the second demonstration outside BMO headquarters in Toronto. USW members are distributing leaflets at branches across Ontario to inform BMO customers of BMO's favourable loan to a union-busting company.
Workers at Infinity Rubber have been on strike since December 2009 when their employer demanded a 25% cut in wages and 50% reduction in benefits. The cuts were in addition to wage reductions the workers agreed to a year earlier to help the company through the recession. Infinity Rubber has been operating with temporary replacement workers, or scabs, since the day the strike began.
Infinity Rubber's predecessor, Biltrite Industries, sought creditor protection in July 2009 and declared bankruptcy, leaving millions in unpaid bills. As part of the insolvency process, a group of Biltrite managers formed Infinity Rubber and purchased Biltrite's Toronto assets for a third their value. The purchase was financed with an 18% asset-backed loan from Callidus Corporation, a company specializing in loans to high-risk clients unable to obtain bank credit. Approximately one year later, the same group refinanced the business with a much more favourable loan granted by BMO.
USW thanks CUPW, the Occupy Toronto movement and the Ontario Federation of Labour for their support.
J. Goss + Associates Video: USW's Myles Sullivan speaks out for Infinity Rubber workers at Occupy Toronto rally in Toronto's financial district.
See more detailed information, photos and videos on the strike at www.usw.ca/infinityrubber.
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Contact: Joe Drexler, USW 416-544-6009 416-434-7907 firstname.lastname@example.org
Video J. Goss + Associates Infinity Rubber worker Fernando Silva Speaking at Occupy Toronto Rally
Video J. Goss + Associates USW Rallies for Infinity Rubber Workers at Occupy Toronto