Canadian Packaging

Canadian union not happy with US company

Plans to permanently close a Brampton, Ontario packaging manufacturer has union saying owners lack compassion.


July 31, 2013
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Closing Graphic Packaging of Brampton, Ont., a manufacturer of plastic packaging, is simply not fair, according to the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) Union of Canada.

When word came down in late July that the Canadian facility would be closing its doors on September 13, 2013 putting some 150 workers out of a job, the union says that Graphic Packaging’s American owners in Atlanta, Georgia lacked compassion for its employees with the decision.

The Brampton plant is owned by Graphic Packaging International, Inc., which is in itself a wholly-owned subsidiary of Graphic Packaging Holding Company headquartered in Sandy Springs, Georgia.The Brampton office had reportedly worked with the owners to help stave off financial issues and closure, including accepting wage cuts of as much as 20 per cent, and benefit reductions.

In fact, the company reported a sharp fall in net income in the second quarter, dropping to $21.2-million from $42.4-million.

The CEP union says, however, that the company’s are due to debt incurred as a result of various mergers and acquisitions and are not due to failed expectations at the Brampton plant.

Graphic Packaging confirmed that its facility at 134 Kennedy Rd. S. will close for good on Sept. 13, with company spokesperson Tricia Taylor saying that closing the Brampton plant was a difficult decision: “It is a necessary step to allow Graphic Packaging to better leverage (its) strengths across the business.”

And yet, no one in Brampton saw it coming, as it was apparently preparing for an industry audit when the announcement to close was made.

“Many employees have spent most of their working lives at this plant and now the U.S.-based company simply wants to vacate without a serious discussion with its workforce,” CEP Ontario region vice-president Dave Moffat said in a statement. “We are talking about workers who have put in up to 40 years at the plant and who deserve some say in the plant’s closure as well as fair compensation.”

In December 2009, more than 100 unionized Brampton workers went on strike for 10 days, with the Graphic Packaging employees agreeing to a 15 per cent pay cut but gaining revamped benefits and pension plan.

“Companies have a responsibility towards their employees and the community in which they are,” says Moffat. “Offering recognition and dignity to individuals who have worked in the plant for decades is a small but important gesture to show the company cares. In this case it is clear Graphic Packaging does not.”

(Photo credit: From Wikipedia Commons, digital image taken by Postlf on July 23, 2005 in Arlington Virginia.)