HBC management announced today that they are closing their Lachine distribution centre. The warehouse employs more than 150 workers, members of Teamsters Local Union 931. The reasons for the closing have not been made public.
The workers and HBC had not yet begun to re-negotiate their work contract, which was due to be renewed in 2010. Up to the announcement, relations between the union and the board had been considered excellent.
“The announcement was a total surprise, says Gerry Boutin, president of Teamsters Local Union 931. On top of that, it’s getting to be the holidays, and the workers feel pretty bad about this, of course.”
The Teamsters Union has been in communication with HBC management in Toronto, and meetings are being scheduled over the next few days in an attempt to save the jobs at the distribution centre.
“We will be fighting to keep the warehouse open. We’re not going to bargain with HBC management with a view to getting better severance packages.”
History appears to be repeating itself, since the telephone operators at the same distribution centre were made redundant under similar circumstances in the fall of 2008.
Most of the workers at Lachine have between 20-25 years of seniority and they earn an average of $17 per hour.
The warehouse supplies the The Bay stores in the Maritime Provinces and Québec.
The Teamsters Union represents 125,000 members in Canada in all trades. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
Stéphane Lacroix, Director of Public Relations