Laval, QC, October 19, 2018 – They weren’t invited to the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future Molson Brewery on the South Shore of Montréal, but the Teamsters Union decided to show up anyway. Éric Picotte, spokesman and union president for workers at the Molson Brewery on Notre-Dame Street, will be available for interviews. He will be accompanied by his Teamster brothers and sisters from Notre-Dame Street in Montréal.

While Teamsters are happy that Molson-Coors chose to maintain its activities in the metropolitan area, there are still important issues left to tackle regarding the shift from brown-bottled beer to canned beer.

Former provincial Environment Minister Isabelle Melancon had ignored several requests from the Teamsters Union to meet to discuss the future of the Recyc-Québec agreement, which ended two years ago.

This agreement stems from the Act respecting the sale and distribution of beer and soft drinks in non-returnable containers, which imposed penalties on brewers if they sold more than 37% of their beer in cans. Since 55% of beer in Québec is sold in cans, it’s clear that the agreement wasn’t enough to convince the Molsons and the Labatts of this world to shift beer production away from less eco-friendly containers.

Since the Recyc-Québec agreement has now expired, brewers can theoretically produce as much canned beer as they want without having to pay penalties.

Teamsters want to discuss these issues with MarieChantal Chassé, the new provincial environment minister, as soon as possible. Molson’s decision regarding its new factory will have economic, social and environmental consequences.

Economic consequences – The shift to canned beer that brewers like Molson have undertaken, along with the construction of a new high-tech brewery complete, could lead to job losses, as canning lines need less labour than bottling lines. Our opinion is that canned beer benefits Molson’s shareholder, not the community or workers.

Social consequences – Jobs losses could lead to revenue shortfalls for local, provincial and federal governments, and put working-age men and women on government assistance. The shift to canned beer can have consequences that the Legault Government would be wrong to underestimate.

Environmental consequences – Capped brown beer bottles are recycled up to 17 times before being crushed and melted in the Montréal area and resold. Cans are single-use containers, and are recycled outside of the province. Moreover, close to one third of aluminum containers end up in landfills. Capped brown beer bottles are therefore much better for the environment.

The recent IPCC report regarding the urgent need to act on the climate crisis only adds to the concerns being raised by the Teamsters Union. The use and distribution of capped brown beer bottles produce less CO2 than cans.

When announcing his cabinet, Premier Legault mentioned today that the environment is a sincere concern of his.

The uncertainty is pushing some to quit

Molson workers have been worried ever since they learned that a new brewery will be built on the South Shore of Montréal. The shift to canned beer, technological changes and a general lack of information about the new brewery have created a feeling of uncertainty among workers, pushing about 40 workers to quit since last summer.

Molson-Coors can’t afford to lose so many workers in a period of full employment. The company must better communicate what to expect from the move to the South-Shore of Montréal to retain and reassure workers transitioning to the new brewery.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Molson brewery on the South Shore of Montréal is an important event. Teamsters would like to invite the press to meet them to get a better picture of all the issues that will affect workers and citizens.

Teamsters represent 125,000 members in Canada in all industries. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, represents 1.4 million workers in North America.


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Stéphane Lacroix
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