STUdents boycott Covered Bridge Chips

    Photo 2016-01-23-3St. Thomas University and Memorial University of Newfoundland are boycotting Covered Bridge Potato Chip Company in support of workers who have gone on strike. The Hartland, N.B. based company refuses to pay workers more than minimum wage or recognize seniority.
    The workers have been members of United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) for more than two years but still don’t have a contract with their employer. New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board found the company has violated five sections of the Labour and Employment Act since the union was formed.
    STU’s United Campus Labour Council sent a letter to company president Ryan Albright to notify him of the boycott.
    Shayla Smith is a STU student from Hartland. She’s boycotting the local company because she disagrees with the wages workers receive.
    “Compared to the other chip company in Hartland, Old Dutch, they are making almost five dollars less. Starting out at Old Dutch, you make $14.50. At Covered Bridge, it’s $10.30,” said Smith. “Minimum wage is not enough for a job like that, especially for the ones who have been working there since day one.”
    Betty Demerchant, a striking worker, told CBC earlier this month that she’s been given a 10 cent raise in the five years she’s worked there. However, that was when minimum wage was $10. When it was increased to $10.30, her pay was only increased to the new minimum, meaning she lost her raise.
    Smith said she used to purchase Covered Bridge chips all the time to support the local business, but is now encouraging everyone to stop buying them until the strike is over.
    “If I was working there, I would be part of that union because it’s not fair to be mistreated, uncredited, and unrewarded for the work you are doing. Seeing the people who are involved in the union outside protesting on the coldest of days is truly inspirational,” said Smith. “My mother always told me to fight for what you believe in, and seeing them encourages that for me. I truly hope that they get what they have wanted soon. I fully support the boycott and hope others will as well.”
    According to the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board, Albright said at a bargaining session in June that he would never allow “a union environment” at his company.
    He then told the UFCW representative, “Screw you and your fucking union.” Albright has also pledged not to allow strikers back to work, and will be bringing in new hires on the condition they won’t join the union.
    The United Campus Labour Council’s letter to Covered Bridge Potato Chips reads, “While you are undergoing your fourth expansion please remember that your employees need to make a decent living. We hope you are motivated to end this unrest by going back to the table and hammering out a reasonable settlement in a respectful and professional manner.”
    The company recently received $700,000 in government funding.
    Those wishing to support the boycott can visit the “Action Centre” section of UFCW’s website to send a letter to the company.