ETOBICOKE, Ontario (July 20, 2011)—The United Steelworkers union has launched a new campaign against Infinity Rubber Technology Group Inc. to try to end the impasse—now well into its second year—between Infinity management and the company's 65 striking workers.
Members of USW Local 526L walked off the job at Infinity's Etobicoke plant Dec. 2, 2009, after management demanded that workers accept a $5-per-hour pay cut (25 percent of wages) and pay for 50 percent of their group insurance benefits.
The plant has operated with replacement workers since then, according to Wayne Fraser, director of USW District 6. He said management has refused to negotiate a real compromise since the walkout.
“We tried going back to the bargaining table a couple of times, but without success,” Fraser said. “So now we're ramping up our campaign to a new level.”
The average age of striking workers at Infinity is 55, and most are suffering major economic hardships and poor prospects for other employment, according to Fraser.
Among other tactics, the union is alerting Infinity customers and suppliers of the issues surrounding the strike, including union allegations of poor product quality.
“Truck drivers have said they're hauling return loads of Infinity products that were rejected for poor quality,” Fraser said.
The union also is talking to local officials and provincial legislators, but so far success in that area has been limited because the Ontario legislature is out of session until October, Fraser said.
Formerly known as Biltrite Rubber (1984) Inc., the custom mixing business was facing bankruptcy in July 2009 when a group of investors and Biltrite executives led by Biltrite CEO James Chung acquired it, changing the name to Infinity Rubber. Chung is president and CEO of Infinity.
According to a USW press release, Chung and his group paid $7.5 million for $21.5 million worth of assets in the acquisition.
Infinity officials could not be reached for comment.