The Sault Ste Marie and District Labour Council and Affiliates stood shoulder to shoulder with local striking Teamster Rail workers on Monday afternoon at the rail gate on Carmen’s Way to hold employers accountable for the safety of their workers and send a message to local MP Terry Sheehan to tell him to stand up for local workers.
“(The message we want to send is) that we’ve got (Teamster’s) back. When one member of labour is being attacked we all ban together – that’s how labour works,” Labour Council Vice President Cody Alexander told SaultOnline.
“As far as the message to the government, it’s get their stuff together and get the safety issues sorted out so that the public is safe and so our brothers and sisters can be content that they’re not going to cause any damage or any public issues when they’re feeling fatigued at work,” he continued, saying that the main issues the Labour Council have been hearing are that the workers aren’t interested in continuing to work at the level that they’re being forced to by CN.
“For us, it’s a major safety issue; we have many rail lines going through Sault Ste. Marie and we would like to be confident that the people operating those trains are competent to do so and that they’re not fatigued,” he said.
Jeff Arbus, who was there representing both OPSEU and the local NDP Party, told SaultOnline that he was there to show support for this “critical issue.”
“This is primarily a health and safety issue-driven strike, and I don’t know how many people realize that this is very dangerous work that these guys do,” he said.
“I think the employer has really neglected, for years, the health and safety of the workers in the yard and on the trucks and in the trains,” he continued.
Arbus said he knows this issue personally, as his wife’s father was an engineer, feeling the impact of the lack of concern for health and safety of the workers.
“I think it’s a critical issue for everybody and the whole community needs to step up to support this.”