March 10, 2023 - No. 11

Windsor Salt Workers' Strike

International Women's Day Action Stands with Striking Windsor Salt Workers

International Women's Day rally at Windsor Salt, March 8, 2023

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Major Investor in U.S. Company Attacking Windsor Salt Workers

Windsor Salt Workers' Strike

International Women's Day Action Stands with Striking Windsor Salt Workers

On March 8, International Women's Day, a spirited rally was held at the picket line of Windsor Salt workers. The rally expressed support for the striking workers and for the opposition of the workers in Windsor-Essex and Ontario to the introduction of U.S. union-busting law firms to break the workers' resistance to the contracting out of their work.

Teacher Laura Chesnik spoke to those gathered on behalf of Empower Yourself Now, which organized the rally in support of the workers. International Women's Day is synonymous with the fight of women for the recognition of their rights and the rights of all, she said. It is most fitting that on this day women should support the Windsor Salt workers whose strike is in defence of their right to bargain their working conditions and defend their jobs and health and safety against contracting out. She expressed the appreciation of the community for the workers' defence of their rights on a matter that concerns all Canadian workers at this time, which is to not permit companies to act with impunity with government support.

The action included contingents from the labour and anti-war movements as well as community activists and youth from Windsor-Essex. They were joined by a contingent of retirees representing United Steelworkers Local 1005 from Hamilton, Ontario, who came to express their support and learn about the strike. Rank-and-file salt workers on the picket line welcomed everyone and took time to speak with those who came out and explain the important work they do and what they are fighting for.

(Photos: WF, EYN)

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Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Major Investor in U.S. Company Attacking Windsor Salt Workers

Workers at Windsor Salt's operations in Windsor, Ontario have been forced out on strike since February 17 by Stone Canyon Industries Holdings (SCIH) when they refused to accept the contracting out of the operation's union jobs.

SCIH is a Los Angeles-based holding company. It bought Windsor Salt's parent company in 2020 and is now trying to destroy the union through contracting out. To do so, they have hired the notorious anti-union law firm Jackson Lewis from the United States to "run the negotiations," which is to say: make sure there are no negotiations and the company succeeds in imposing its dictate on the workers. This law firm is known for its aggressive tactics that stoop to the lowest levels of unethical behaviour.[1][2]

The livelihoods and health and safety of the workers are at stake.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTPP) is a major investor in SCIH. All teachers employed in publicly funded K-12 schools and many education workers contribute to this plan, which is one of the largest pension plans in the world. The pension fund has CAD$243 billion in assets and 1,300 employees. The OTPP claims to invest "strategically across key markets and sectors to deliver steady returns." Its website listed SCIH as one of its investments over $200 million in 2021. One of its asset managers, Ashfaq Qadri, is on SCIH's Board of Managers. The pension fund is jointly managed by the Ontario government and the Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF), which is overseen by representatives from the four teacher and education worker affiliate unions: l'Association des enseignates et enseignants Franco-Ontarien (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OECTA) and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF).

In 2017, SCIH reported that the OTPP led a group of investors that bought Series B Preferred Stock in one of its subsidiaries, SCI Packaging. At that time, the CEO of BWAY, one of the packaging companies under SCI Packaging, Ken Roessler, stated, "We are pleased to partner with Ontario Teachers', Canyon, PSP Investments and Arcadia, and look forward to working together."

In 2018, SCIH announced that it had closed an equity offering of $1.8 billion. At that time the company indicated that the new capital investment would give the company "the ability to acquire and operate market leading businesses in essential industries, and to execute its long-term 'buy, build and hold' focus." With the new funds, SCIH "will seek to build out industrial verticals [a group of companies that focus on a shared niche or specialized market spanning multiple industries, in other words, a cartel -- ed. note] in stable and mature industries that possess favorable economic dynamics with high barriers to entry; a fragmented industry poised to create or strengthen a market leader through consolidation; and an opportunity to build a substantial company that will make a difference," the company said in a press release. The press release ended with its Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Adam Cohn and Jim Fordyce saying "we appreciate the confidence in our long-term strategy shown by shareholders such as Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Mubadala Investment Company, Eldridge Industries, and The Olayan Group, as well as many prominent family offices, all of whom share our values of long-term growth in mission-critical global industries." (Our emphasis.)

In 2020, in a $2 billion transaction, SCIH acquired K+S Americas Salt, the owners of Morton Salt, then owner of Windsor Salt's critical salt mining operations. After SCIH's purchase of K+S, the new owners used their new consolidated salt operations to attack Windsor Salt miners in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, forcing them to accept concessions. Now they have hired a union busting law-firm, Jackson Lewis from the United States, to attack the livelihood of salt workers in Windsor, Ontario by refusing to negotiate and demanding contracting out of union jobs, something that would destroy the union itself.

Where workers' pension funds are invested is a major concern for workers at this time. The OTPP investment in SCIH and it's connection with the board of SCIH is a matter of concern for all teachers and should be sorted out in a manner that favours all teachers, education workers, their unions and all Canadians. It is the workers who should decide whose values and which "mission critical global industries" they want to support.


1. "Union-busting in Canada by U.S. Law Firm Jackson Lewis,", March 6, 2023

2. "Former U.S. Vice-Consul Represents Windsor Mine Owners,", March 7, 2023 

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