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Closure of MEC Brampton distribution centre is a ‘bombshell’ for employees, says union

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Closure of MEC Brampton distribution centre is a ‘bombshell’ for employees, says union

The new American owner of Canadian retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is closing the Brampton facility and eliminating the unionized employees and an unspecified number of other jobs by the end of May. MEC PHOTO

Plans to layoff 60 employees at a Brampton distribution centre couldn’t come at a worse time, says the union representing the workers.

The new American owner of Canadian retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) notified the United Steel Workers Union (USW) that they will be closing the Brampton facility and eliminating the unionized employees and an unspecified number of other jobs by the end of May.

U.S based Kingswood Capital Management, a private investment firm, purchased MEC last year after it sought protection under the Compaines’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

The UAW says Kingswood is looking to outsource the distribution and e-commerce operation to a non-union facility that will be located elsewhere.

“When Kingwood’s acquisition of MEC was announced, the co-operative’s employees and its five million members across Canada were told the new American owner would save jobs, was committed to ‘honouring the MEC ethos’ and had ‘tremendous respect for the values’ that were built over 50 years,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“MEC workers and their families in Brampton believe the new owner should make good on those commitments.”

The notification to close the plant comes as the union and its members were getting set to negotiate a new collective agreement with Kingswood. The current collective agreement expires on June 30.

“The timing and the callousness of dropping this bombshell on loyal employees – that they are about to lose their jobs in the middle of a pandemic – is very disconcerting, to say the least,” Warren said.

“We’re calling on the new MEC owners to do the right thing by negotiating a new agreement with workers and investing in the community.”

The Brampton MEC facility, which is located next to a major cross-country highway and railway networks, opened less than five years ago to serve as an Eastern Canada distribution centre.

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