Striking Molson workers reject offer as picket lines stretch into 11th week

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MONTREAL — Hundreds of striking Molson Canada workers have rejected an offer from the beverage company, keeping more than 400 employees on the picket lines and bar owners with less on tap.

Teamsters Canada says the union local last week voted 92.4 per cent against a collective agreement put on the table by the 236-year-old brewery in Montreal.

Teamsters spokeswoman Catherine Cosgrove said concerns over salary remain front and centre amid rampant inflation, on top of pension and work scheduling issues.

"As good as it may seem, the workers have to make sure they are not losing money by accepting the contract as presented," she said. The parties did not sit down to negotiate until May 23, she added.

Molson Coors spokesman François Lefebvre said the rejected deal marks its final offer following the walkout on March 25, with managers now having to deliver beer themselves under a contingency plan.

"This offer was more than generous. And this offer would have made our employees have the highest paying jobs in the beer industry in Quebec," he said in an interview. "The bars are kind of being held hostage."

Renaud Poulin, head of the Quebec bar owners' association, says numerous pubs in more far-flung parts of the province are missing suds due to the 73-day strike.

"It’s pretty tough. Everyone’s missing beer. We don’t have all the brands," he said.

Quebec's labour tribunal issued an interim order last month requiring Molson Canada to stop employing replacement workers until a union complaint can be heard by the quasi-judicial body.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2022.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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