The boycott is in support of 150 members of Teamsters Local 938 who are being put out of work by Labatt’s decision to close the historic Lakeport brewery plant in Hamilton, Ontario and by its refusal to sell the plant and equipment to other brewers who have stated a willingness to hire these workers.
Beer has been brewed in Hamilton at the Lakeport facility since 1947 under a number of different owners. The Teamsters have represented the workers at Lakeport for 30 years and the current employees have worked there for an average of 18 years each.
Lakeport was a thriving independent brewery when it was bought out in 2007 by Labatt. Labatt stated at the time that the plant was viable and the Teamsters have negotiated with the Company to ensure its continued success.
Despite this, on March 31, 2010, Labatt called all the workers together and told them that their jobs were gone as of April 30th. The Company since moved the closure date up by two weeks. As of today, the workers are on the street.
Since the closure was announced multiple offers have been reported from companies who are willing to continue to use the facilities as a brewery and who are able to hire these experienced workers. These offers require Labatt to leave the brewery equipment in place. Labatt has turned down all of these offers and has begun dismantling the equipment and machinery.
Labatt has made its position clear in its latest proposal to the City of Hamilton. Labatt offered to donate the remainder of its lease to anyone interested in buying the brewery and giving hiring preference to current employees, but with the express condition that the buyer cannot be involved in beer or soft drink production. Since Lakeport employees have an average age of 50 and an average of 18 years experience in the brewery business, the Union’s view is that this offer demonstrates the Company’s indifference to the future of these workers.
Labatt is the number one brewer in Canada, and is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading brewery globally. Anheuser-Busch InBev has revenue of $37,000 million U.S. dollars per year. Ask yourself – how much impact will it have on this company to take the steps necessary to allow 150 workers in Hamilton to continue to brew beer? We say, none at all, and certainly none in comparison to the destruction of a storied Hamilton industry and the devastation of the lives of workers who have given many years of their lives to that industry.
Labatt has a whole website advertising its commitment to making a “better world”. On that website Labatt says that “as one of Canada’s leading brewers and most successful businesses, it has a responsibility to contribute to the betterment of our society”.
Shutting down the brewery industry in Hamilton and throwing long-service workers out on the street is no way to make the world better.
This summer, we urge all Ontarions to use your buying power to send Labatt the message that the world will be better off without them unless they step up to their responsibilities in Hamilton.