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Vol. 75/No. 20      May 23, 2011

Airline food workers
fight lockout in Canada
EDMONTON, Alberta—Some 60 workers at Gate Gourmet’s plant near the airport here set up a picket line after bosses locked them out April 16.

Gate Gourmet is the world’s largest independent catering service for airlines and railroads. Its parent company, Gate Group, reported a $58 million profit increase in 2010, up 36 percent from the previous year.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 were in negotiations with the previous owners and working without a contract when Gate Gourmet bought the company in November 2010.

Gate Gourmet tried to impose a contract that included a three-year wage freeze. When workers refused the “offer,” and were about to send in their strike notice, the company immediately locked them out.

Workers point out that the price of gas alone has doubled over the last two years. Many live in the city and drive 40 kilometers (25 miles) to work.

The company has threatened to shut down the plant in an attempt to cow workers into accepting the concessions, according to union representative Dee Mae Beler. The bosses’ hard-line approach indicates what they have in mind for Gate Gourmet contracts up for renewal in Calgary and Montreal.

“Gate Gourmet has brought in managers and temporary staff from Calgary and Vancouver to keep production going,” said Varinder, a picket captain. “But the workers are strong people and we’re not going to be intimidated by the company’s strong-arm tactics.”

Rich Thomas is bus driver and a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union in British Columbia.
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