A Labor Ruckus at the Legion Hall on Monday, December 18, 2006 resulted in a delay for the bingo Customers of the Legion Hall, as well as a rammed picket line. About 24 members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union protested in front of the Fort Rouge and Imperial Legion Hall that day, asking the bingo customers to boycott their regular bingo nights in the hall.
Indeed, employees were blocked out of the Legion Hall Club located on Osborne Street. According to Jason Panas, one driver purposely hit him twice in an attempt to push through the picket line around 5:30 p.m. that day. The driver bumped into him lightly and then backed up about 4-5 feet before bumping into him again.
Panas went to see a doctor after the incident due to his sore side. He stated that he was shocked by the incident because he does not even work at the Legion Hall. He was just helping out and that kind of aggression towards him caught Jason Panas by surprise.
The mother of the victim, Sheila Panas, said that the force of the car's second hit caused her son to fall forward on the hood of the car. She was also bumped by a truck in front of the media that was covering the incident around 7:00 p.m. The vehicle stopped after bumping Sheila Panas, as she demanded that the occupants of the car wait 5 minutes before entering the premises of the Legion Hall.
According to Winnipeg Police Authorities, it is still not clear if charges will be filed. According to Staff Sergeant Ron Johansson, they have one incident at the picket line where a car came into collision with one of the picketers, but the investigation in that case is still ongoing. Other than that, there have been no other incidents reported by the people in the picket line.
Doug Fisher, the Branch President, said that he called the officers after one of the pickets tried to wreck his sign that read 'Support the Veterans, Not the Huge CAW.' The problem involves staff benefits, wages and hours. The Legion Hall has dismissed the union's demand for a 25 cent wage hike next September, and in turn, the union dismissed the Legion's wish to employ a manager and a bartender instead of separate staff members. Some bingo patrons said that despite the unfortunate incident, the picket lines were relatively peaceful and orderly.
According to Susan Rodgers, who claims to really understand the demands and concerns of the workers, the finances must accommodate the demands before they are met. She further added that the employees must be realistic because if they push the issue without further backing in their finances, it may result in job cuts and she personally would hate to see the Legion fold for that reason.
They are really struggling to make ends meet. The Legion Branch had about 13 CAW members before the lockout, but Fisher said that about 7 of them have resigned or joined the picket lines. Doug Fisher also added that the Legion cannot afford to meet the concessions right now because if they give in, the Legion might close down unless they receive a collective agreement to make them more viable.
Fisher also said that a good bingo night can raise between $700-$800 per night. That day, they had about 130 people that came for the bingo event. Protester, Susan Grant, said that the problem lies heavily on her bank account too. Grant added that she has to support herself and pay her mortgages, so this is very tiring for her. The National Representative of the CAW, Bruce Prozyk, said that the concessions were reasonable and that he firmly believes that the Legion can afford it. He further stated that if the Legion were to increase the cost of the drinks at the hall, even by a nickel, they could afford the raise that the employees were asking for by next year.
Thursday, December 28, 2006