Windsor Salt suspending negotiations after overnight assault

·2 min read
Employees at Windsor Salt have been on strike since Feb. 17. (CBC File Photo - image credit)
Employees at Windsor Salt have been on strike since Feb. 17. (CBC File Photo - image credit)

Talks between Windsor Salt and the unions representing some of their workers on strike have been halted due to an assault at the company's Ojibway mine.

In a statement, Windsor Salt stated that three masked people illegally entered the mine and struck a Windsor Salt employee repeatedly with baseball bats.

"Fortunately, the victim's injuries are not life threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery," the statement read.

Windsor police confirmed to CBC News that the assault took place, but were unable to share more details.

More on the ongoing Windsor Salt strike:

Windsor Salt also alleged that there have been "repeated mischaracterizations by the Union and others" about the labour talks, but did not provide specifics in their statement.

The company declined an interview request by CBC News.

In an emailed statement, Unifor's national office said it "unconditionally condemns any form of violence" and says members have maintained a "peaceful picket line" for 10 weeks.

"Unifor has not been approached by Windsor Police about this incident. The union has full confidence that the Windsor police will handle the matter appropriately," the union said.

The union also expressed disappointment that Windsor Salt has suspended talks.

"Unifor calls on Windsor Salt to return to the table to bargain in good faith to achieve a new collective agreement with the 250 members on strike," the statement concluded.

Strike started in February

Unifor Locals 240 and 1959 units represent about 250 Windsor Salt employees who have been on strike since February 17.

Local 240 chairperson Lindsay Meloche previously told CBC News that workers went on strike in response to de-unionizing actions by the mine's owner Stone Canyon Industries.

"The management company basically wants to contract out the jobs for everyone," she said, adding that would mean eliminating packaging, shipping and skilled trades work as unionized labour at Windsor Salt.

Meloche said the issues started in 2021 when Stone Canyon Industries took over Windsor Salt and began to "erode the union."

The company said in the statement that it has never been the goal to get rid of union jobs through subcontracting and that officials have been bargaining in good faith since the roughly 250 workers first walked off the job.

Darryl G. Smart/CBC News
Darryl G. Smart/CBC News

The union had previously said that the company refused to negotiate before talks continued in mid-March.

The statement from Windsor Salt continued to say the company's immediate priority is to focus on who carried out the assault at the mine.

Windsor Salt is offering a $50,000 reward to anyone "who brings information to the police that leads to the arrest and prosecution of the attackers."

CBC News has reached out to Unifor Local 240 and Local 1959 and Windsor police for further comment.