PM delivers Canada Day message to Leamington & Highbury Canco Members

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July 5, 2018

UFCW 175 - Highbury Canco - Justin Trudeau

Tim Deelstra, Angela Mattioli, Scott Jackson (Chief Union Steward at Highbury Canco), and Union Rep Fred Teeple pose for a photo with Prime Minister Trudeau.

On Canada Day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an appearance in the community of Leamington.

Specifically, he chose to speak from the steps of the Highbury Canco facility, which employs Members of UFCW Local 175.

It also marked the fourth anniversary of Highbury Canco taking over the plant, which Heinz ran previously. Highbury Canco was able to rehire a couple hundred people at that time and now, has grown its workforce to include about 400 UFCW Local 175 Union members.

Trudeau toured the facility and spoke to a number of the workers and the community during his hour-long stop. He spoke briefly to the crowd but did not speak specifically about trade concerns with the U.S. It is likely, however, that Trudeau selected Highbury Canco because it’s a Canadian-owned plant that exports a number of products to the United States that are now subject to tariffs. This could affect sales as the cost of those products increase for the U.S. market. Highbury Canco Sam Diab spoke to the media and stated he felt more confident after meeting with the PM.

Representatives from the Local Union, including Angela Mattioli, Fred Teeple, and Tim Deelstra, had the opportunity to speak to the PM as well.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 continues to push our governments to support Canadian workers and protect our workforce and industries through enhanced trade policies.

“I spoke to the Prime Minister about trade policy and how the government should focus on protecting Canadian workers,” said Deelstra. “That includes protecting the Canadian supply management chain in dairy and poultry.” Trudeau agreed on the importance of protecting workers and that the government would be firm on maintaining supply management in our trade agreements.

So, what does supply chain management mean?

It means making sure there’s a required portion of Canadian content in industries. Changes to these systems can have dire effects on long-held Canadian industries that employ tens of thousands of workers. Supply chain management is an item on the table in the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks.

More info on Highbury Canco and the Members of UFCW Local 175

Previously, the Members at Highbury Canco belonged to UFCW Local 459. That Local Union merged with Local 175 in April 2016 and brought with it the hardworking people from Cavendish Appetizers, Milo-FAIS, and the Highbury Canco facility. Highbury Canco saw a steady increase in its hiring over the last few years.

The Leamington plant is almost 2,000,000 square feet. It combines early-1900s technology with state-of-the-art equipment to produce a number of items. The Unionized workers at the plant make:

  • vinegar,
  • tomato paste,
  • kidney beans,
  • pork and beans,
  • seafood sauce,
  • tomato juice,
  • pizza sauce,
  • Spaghettios,
  • salsa,
  • A1 steak sauce,
  • and many other tomato products including items for the Heinz brand.

French’s also get its tomato paste from the Leamington plant. Plus, all the tomatoes used at Highbury Canco are from farms in Leamington and the surrounding area.