Picketers at Calgary BURNCO location protest employee lockout

WATCH ABOVE: Burnco has locked out its concrete drivers from their plants in Calgary, Springbank, Okotoks and Airdrie. If the lockout is prolonged it could lead to a construction slowdown. Global’s David Boushy reports.

CALGARY – A handful of employees began picketing outside a southeast Calgary BURNCO plant on Monday after being locked out.

The unionized workers were in the process of negotiating a new contact when they were given 72 hours notice of the lockout on Friday.

Union member Doug Dodd was among a dozen employees holding signs at a picket line at the BURNCO Rock Products Ltd. location in the 3000 block of Shepard Place S.E. on Monday.

“We had a date set for this coming Thursday for a vote,” said Dodd. “They locked us out before we even had a chance to vote on the proposal.”

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“We’re feeling a little bit surprised that they took this route, it was completely unnecessary.”

“We’re just like everybody else,” added Dodd. “We’ve got families, we’ve got mortgages. We want to work.”

Jim Carlson, who has worked for BURNCO close to 27 years, said Monday marked his first time on a picket line.

“I thought BURNCO was the best company in the world to work for until today,” he said. “It really went downhill.”

The lockout affects members of Teamsters Union Local 362, which covers 96 employees at plants in Airdrie, Springbank and Okotoks.

The union says the biggest sticking point with the negotiations is seniority, which employees don’t want to give up.

1200 meters of concrete was set to leave the plant on Monday.

Union members say BURNCO has hired private concrete drivers to deliver their product, but anticipate the lockout could impact some commercial and residential construction sites.

The company released a statement on Monday morning saying the decision to lockout employees was made after the union voted for the right to strike on July 30, despite not going to vote on their amended offer until August 13.

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“BURNCO has a history of negotiating fair, competitive wages, benefits and work conditions,” said Chief Executive Officer Mike Powell. “As the current economic environment in Calgary is more challenging, we believe that this is a time when all parties need to be working together to find solutions. We are committed to finding these solutions in a timely manner.”

– With files from Dallas Flexhaug