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At the recent meeting of the Canadian Soft Drink Workers Council (CSWC) held in Toronto, UFCW Canada representatives from Local Unions 175, 278W, 361W, 387W, 401, 486, 501, 832, 864, 1000A, 1288P and 1400 combined to make the largest caucus of the seven organizations in attendance including UFCW Canada, Teamsters, NAPE (from Newfoundland), CAW, RWDSU (Saskatchewan), and an independent employees' association from Calgary.
Of all of those organizations, UFCW Canada is the only union with Local Union collective agreements at all the leading companies in the soft drink industry. Those companies include Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Cott Beverages, McCain Foods, and Minute Maid.
National representative Jim Wright was head of the UFCW Canada caucus, which all together represents UFCW Canada members who work in the soft drink industry at more than three dozen soft drink bottling plants, packaging facilities and warehouse operations across the country. Joe Tann, of UFCW Canada Local 378W also sits on the CSWC Executive Board.
"The purpose the CSWC is to share information regarding negotiations, grievances, and benefits, to prevent the employers from giving us misinformation," says Brother Wright, who also leads the Soft Drink Breakout Group at the annual National Defense Fund conference. The members of that breakout group strategize upcoming negotiations, as well as share information on particular issues, challenges, and policies in place at each particular location.
"Through the NDF conference, and through the CSWC, UFCW Canada has a major role in keeping employers honest because we have the most collective bargaining agreements, and are the only union with bargaining units in each of the major companies," says Brother Wright, who also coordinated the recent CSWC meeting.
"At the end of the day, employers in the soft drink industry know they can't play one location, or one union against another in the next round of negotiations."