Canadian Packaging

Strike could affect beer can supplies

A six-month strike at the Crown Holdings plant in Toronto causes uncertainty over supply of cans to beer, soft drink and food producers.


February 25, 2014
by Canadian Packaging Staff

TORONTO—Workers forced onto the picket line six months ago at the Crown Holdings manufacturing plant in Toronto say the protracted labor dispute is threatening reliable supplies of cans to beer, soft drink and food producers.

“We believe that using replacement workers is causing problems with quality control, shipment returns and failed efforts to operate the plant,” says United Steelworkers representative Lawrence Hay.

“Crown Holdings’ customers, such as MolsonCoors, Labatt, Cott, Morgan Foods and Baxters Canada should be increasingly concerned over whether they can count on Crown as a reliable supplier of quality cans,” Hay continues.

Beer manufacturers are particularly vulnerable to a lack of stable supply as the busier spring and summer seasons approach, bringing increased demand for canned beer, he noted.

The Crown Holdings plant in Toronto is the U.S.-based company’s largest facility in Canada. Employees have been on the picket line since September 2013, to resist Crown’s demands for dramatic concessions.

In addition to recruiting replacement workers to try to run its Toronto plant, Crown has been importing cans from its U.S. plants to meet customer demand, the USW believes.

Can plants are regional and are generally built near food and beverage producers, because cans, especially aluminum beverage cans, are difficult and are prohibitively expensive to ship, Hay says.

“Importing replacement workers and incurring costs to ship cans – and risking the loss of its customer base in Canada – shows the lengths that Crown’s management will go to try to break our union,” he notes.

The USW is closely scrutinizing Crown’s performance and reporting of losses and will be in direct contact with corporate shareholders and customers alike to ensure they are informed, Hay said.

For more details on the Crown strike and the USW’s campaign, as well as videos and other information, see www.takebacksnomore.ca.