TORONTO — United Food and Commercial Workers Canada Local 1006A at a Maple Leaf Foods Inc. chicken plant in Toronto voted 98 percent in favor of taking strike action for the latest contract talks.

The union workers are responding to Maple Leaf’s announcement that it will be closing the Toronto facility by late 2020. Approximately 680 workers process poultry at the facility and have been attempting to get a new deal since the last one expired on Sept. 23, 2018. 

“Maple Leaf has failed to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to do more than the bare minimum as workers' jobs disappear,” said Don Taylor, lead negotiator for Local 1006A. “We’re calling on the company to do the right thing by our members who have worked so hard to ensure Maple Leaf's success.”

In Q1 of 2019, Maple Leaf Foods reported C$50.1 million in profit with sales up 11 percent from 2018.

The company said it is working to reach agreement with the workers.

“Maple Leaf Foods is currently bargaining with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union 1006A regarding a closure agreement which includes severance packages in connection with the planned closure of our Toronto poultry plant,” said Janet Riley, vice president of communications at Maple Leaf Foods. “We have been bargaining in good faith and are optimistic that we can reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. “

After the Toronto plant closes, Maple Leaf said it will work to find positions for the affected employees in other Maple Leaf plants.

In November 2018, Maple Leaf announced a C$660 million value-added fresh poultry facility in London, Ontario, which will lead Toronto production to fold along with plants in St. Marys and Brampton.

The C$660 million project will receive funding from several sources, including approximately C$605.5 million from Maple Leaf Foods. The government of Ontario has committed to an investment of C$34.5 million while the government of Canada under the Strategic Innovation Fund has pledged C$20 million. In addition, Maple Leaf will receive an C$8 million loan from the AgriInnovate Fund.