In 1992, The Union substantially revamped its structure, changed its name, and chartered Local Unions throughout the Province. The new name, Brewery, General & Professional Workers Union, was chosen to reflect the change in and diversity of our membership as well as remembering our roots. The officer structure was changed so that Business Agent Cam Nelson became President; Assistant Business Agent John McNamee became the First Vice-President; and Assistant Business Agent George Redmond became Business Agent. The Toronto area units were chartered as Local 304 with every other bargaining unit (some 35 in total) chartered as separate Locals. During the year the employees of four of Ontario’s Community Legal Clinics joined the Union, and the Union achieved yet another Canadian first when a bargaining unit composed of lawyers successfully struck at the Brant County clinic. The employees at the Simcoe County Waste Management Department and those at Rexdale Truck Wash joined the Union.
Nineteen ninety-two was also the year in which Nestle first decided to sell the Laura Secord business, and, more importantly, the plant at which more than 500 of our members worked. Knowing that many of the companies interested in buying the Laura Secord business would likely close the plant, the Union, in conjunction with the plant management, made a determined effort to raise the millions of dollars necessary for an employee purchase of the business. Nestle did not accept any offer from the prospective buyers (even though ours was the best), and the plant continued in operation.
The Union faced another crisis in 1993. In early August, Labatt informed it, and the Company’s employees in Ontario, that it had decided to outsource the entire transportation department. As a result of this announcement, all the transportation employees in both the Toronto and London plants were given notice of termination. But the Union did not take this decision lying down.
The Union told the Company that there would be no new collective agreement reached at the end of that year it rescinded the decision to outsource. The Union also developed a campaign targeting the Companies’ upcoming annual meeting and highlighting the costs of a protracted shutdown in Ontario. At the same time the Union made it clear to the Company that it was prepared to work with it to make the fleet’s more competitive. Labatt eventually agreed to hold off on the shutdown during negotiations. A new collective agreement was eventually reached which included a commitment to maintain the fleet.
The following year saw the employees at Alexandria Moulding (now our largest single bargaining unit) join the Union, as well as the establishment, by the Union, of a Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Mutual Fund – Trillium Growth Capital. Trillium remained in operation as a separate labour sponsored fund until 1998 when it merged with the First Ontario Fund. The Union continues as one of the sponsoring unions of the First Ontario Fund, and Brother McNamee sits on First Ontario’s Board of Directors.