July 26, 2018 11:52 pm
Updated: July 27, 2018 12:00 am

Union members picket outside Festival of Beer amidst dispute with Exhibition Place

WATCH: Technical union workers picket outside Toronto’s Festival of Beer


People attending the Festival of Beer at Exhibition Place over the weekend will have to walk through a picket line to enter the event.

Union members of IATSE Local 58 have been locked out since Friday, after talks fell through with the Exhibition Place board — and are now hoping people will boycott the event.

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“Do we ask people not to show up and support us with their pocket books? Yes, we do ask that,” said Local 58 president Justin Antheunis.

“But if they do come here, note that we will allow them to walk in. No problem.”

Antheunis adds that although they are not going to impede anyone from walking through, union members will encourage people to stop and chat with them so they can inform them about their conflict with the Exhibition Place, which is city-owned.

The union members that have been locked out consist of technical staff and stage workers.

“At the [Festival of Beer], we would have many operators here, operating the lighting, the sound, any video or camera gear,” said Antheunis.

The lock-out began on Friday, after seven months of negotiations between the two sides. Local 58 has been picketing outside of major sporting events for the first week, which Antheunis said has left Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment group resorting to contracting their work out.

Antheunis says the organizers of the Festival of Beer have also had to contract out their work to a third party.

“Exhibition Place has told every client that they’re not supplying replacement workers and that each client is responsible for bringing their own workers,” said Antheunis. “[They’re] forcing them to cross our picket lines.”

Antheunis adds that if the City of Toronto is locking out the Local 58 union members, then it should at least provide replacement workers to the Exhibition Place clients. He also believes those contract workers won’t be able to do the same quality job as the locked-out union members.

WATCH: Toronto’s Festival of Beer kicks off this weekend

“It could interfere with the quality of the event,” said Antheunis “Local 58 has a large institutional knowledge of these grounds because of the time we’ve spent on these grounds. We know how to efficiently set up these grounds… when an outside group would have no idea how to do it.”

Local 58 says the Exhibition Place board wants to have non-unionized workers do some of their jobs as part of the new agreement, something the union members won’t stand for.

“At our very first meeting, we told them outright that at no point are we willing to negotiate anything that is willing to give up any of our jobs on the ground,” said Antheunis

The chair of the Exhibition Place board and Toronto city councillor Mark Grimes says management had little choice but to resort to a lock-out because the union wouldn’t discuss any of the board’s major bargaining issues.

“These changes include modifications to the work rules on issues of job shadowing, minimum call and double time provisions,” said Grimes in an email statement. “Additionally, the union has rejected Exhibition Place’s proposal regarding Crew Chief qualifications and health and safety competency.”

Grimes adds that the board’s offer is one that will help Exhibition Place remain competitive.

“In order for Exhibition Place to remain sustainable we have to end practices that are detrimental to attracting new business to Exhibition Place and do not reflect competitive industry practices and technology,” wrote Grimes.

The Canadian National Exhibition is less than month away and Local 58 says if the dispute isn’t resolved by then, then people who want to attend the fair will also have to go through their picket line.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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