Members of Unifor Local 597, who have been locked out by their employer for 21 months, have secured an agreement with their employer to go to binding arbitration to resolve the lockout. Local 597 members are employed by Kansas-based D-J Composites, and UE responded to our sister union’s call for international solidarity: last December a UE delegation delivered flyers to the company headquarters in Augusta, Kansas, calling on them to end the lockout, and last week UE sent out an action alert asking UE members and allies to call D-J Composites CEO Rezaul Chowdhury.
On Wednesday, September 26 — day 646 of the lockout — the locked-out members of Local 597 were joined by hundreds of Unifor members from across Canada. Together the Unifor members blockaded the plant, ensuring that scabs would no longer be able to do Local 597 members’ work and effectively “locking out” the employer.
In a letter to the Unifor Local 597 members, UE’s officers declared that “the extraordinary assault on you and your working conditions requires extra-legal action to win your fight and kick the scabs out of your plant.”
On October 3, a week after taking this bold action, Unifor announced that D-J Composites had consented to binding arbitration, which will eventually lead to a collective bargaining agreement, ending the lockout. Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball assisted with securing this agreement after a meeting with Unifor National President Jerry Dias on Monday, October 1.
“These thirty workers could have walked away, but instead they stayed and they fought for their right to have a union at work. Their courage and resolve has inspired our entire union, indeed the entire labour movement,” said Unifor’s Atlantic Regional Director Lana Payne.
- Unifor Press Release: Unifor Activists Shut Down D-J Composites
- UE General President Peter Knowlton discusses how U.S. unions could benefit from emulating Unifor’s militance on the District Sentinel podcast.