Boilermakers, their friends and family, and other union members continue to walk a picket line as CESSCO Fabrication & Engineering Ltd. refuses to bring back the 30 Boilermakers from Local 146 (Edmonton, Alberta) the company locked out in June.
The Boilermakers were locked out effective June 28 after CESSCO served up contract demands that reduced wages and pension contributions and gutted critical seniority language. Workers, who had not had a pay or benefits increase in over five years, had hoped to continue with bargaining, which had spanned more than two and a half years.
Now, more than five months later and moving into Alberta’s coldest weather season, CESSCO is showing no signs of budging or bringing the Boilermakers back to the negotiating table. Members who were involved in the bargaining said it was clear the company’s aim was—and continues to be—to break the union.
“This seems to be the M.O. of the new CESSCO president, Dave Hummel, and in line with treatment of workers by parent company, Canerector Inc.,” said L-146 BM-ST Hugh MacDonald. MacDonald referred to a recent case in which Amanda Hawkins, who is now Canerector’s CEO, was ordered by court to pay a hefty fine and damages for firing an employee at an affiliated company based on false claims of just cause.
Arnie Stadnick, IVP-Canada, sent a letter to Amanda Hawkins in September requesting a meeting to discuss the situation at CESSCO, and Hawkins has not, as of the date of this reporting, replied to the request.
“We’re not just fighting for our 30 Boilermakers,” MacDonald said. “If we, the Boilermakers union, let this go, it not only opens the door for Canerector to pull this with all their affiliated companies, but it also paves the way for other unrelated companies to do so, putting more of Alberta’s unions and workers at risk.”
To that end, other provincial and national unions—especially those affiliated with healthcare—have been generous with their support of the locked-out Boilermakers, joining them on the picket line when they can. Also, Boilermakers from across the U.S. and Canada have donated to assist. Local 146 has a small “command center” near the picket line and has set up several ways to support the CESSCO workers. IndustriALL Global Union has sent a solidarity letter demanding that CESSCO end the lockout.
In addition, to raise awareness and stoke pressure against CESSCO, the International has sent an inflatable rat and fat cat to the picket line, provided picket signs, provided a “bat light” that projects messages onto the CESSCO building at night, sent warm coats with a highly visible embroidered anti-lockout message, is providing public relations and communications assistance, and set up a website to serve as an online “home base” for information and tactics. The website includes a place for visitors to add their name to a growing list of #StandWith146 supporters and join in future tactics.
“We want to support our brothers and sisters locked out at CESSCO any way we can,” said Tyler Brown, Executive Director of Industrial Sector Operations. “COVID-19 border restrictions are preventing us from being on the picket line to stand in person with Local 146, but we will continue to stand with them in any other way possible.”
Says locked out Boilermaker Dwight Watson: “It’s such a help. I’ve talked to other unions on the line about what the International has given us, and they say theirs don’t do anything like it. It’s such a long day walking on the picket line. It’s nice to know someone is saying ‘We’ve got your back.’ It’s nice to know our union is behind us, supporting us.”
To stay informed of the latest information on the CESSCO lockout and to find out how you can help, visit and share www.EndOurLockout.com.