As a woman who takes her snack food addiction very seriously, I think I can safely say with objective certainty that Covered Bridge potato chips are the best chips in Canada. I mean, there are so many flavours to choose from that I usually just don’t and wind up having a giant chip buffet, because who can pick between tangy “Creamy Dill” chips and “Smokin’ Sweet BBQ.”
These chips are so good, that I take them in my suitcase when I travel outside of Canada. But now, I’m sad to announce that I have to give up Covered Bridge Chips — at least for a while — to support the workers who make them.
Covered Bridge may be smart enough to make Storm Chips — a dream in a bag for people like me who can’t choose a chip flavour, as there are multiple types of chips in a single bag (!) — but they somehow haven’t figured out that giving their workers a liveable wage and job security is important.
Some of Covered Bridge’s workers walked off the job Tuesday, and now staff are picketing in the streets. The union repping the workers (United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1288P) is giving their case some teeth, pushing customers to boycott the chips.
Many Canadians took to Twitter to encourage the boycott as well:
— Rick Conrad (@rickconrad) January 5, 2016
Encouraging everyone to boycott Covered Bridge Potato Chips until a fair agreement can be reached https://t.co/FqGeTqgW3p
— Dr. Kristi Allain (@Kristi_Allain) January 5, 2016
These workers need support as they fight for 1st contract https://t.co/YuAxVZbxux
— Danny Cavanagh (@DannyNSFL) January 6, 2016
Carl Flanagan, a national representative for the union, told CBC News that we don’t have to boycott the chips forever (THANK GOD) — just until they can sort this mess out: “We are not asking them to stop buying altogether, just help us get this employer back to the table so we can reach an agreement,” he said.
After workers walked off the job, Flanagan said that the company president Ryan Albright simply brought in more cheap labour: “When he is using scab labour, he is still producing products so we are asking the product that is being produced by scab labour — please don’t buy it.”
At a mediated meeting between Albright and the union, he reportedly stormed out and said “screw you and your f***ing union,” according to CBC News. “I will give my employees what they want for the increase of wages and the benefits they were looking for,” said Albright, “but never ever, ever in a union environment.”
Covered Bridge released a statement following the workers’ strike, calling the situation “just a small bump in the road,” and explaining that they are working towards “getting past this.”
But many workers can’t get past this, and they’re demanding seniority rights and pay raises. Workers may get minimum wage, but after devoting years of their life to the company, many feel that getting a mere five to 10 cent raise here and there doesn’t cut it.
“The problem is people aren’t educated — it is easy to sit back and say those buggers are trying to ruin that small business in Hartland, New Brunswick,” explained Flanagan.
“We are not. We are just looking for fairness. These people are just looking for fairness, a living wage, and job security is not a lot to be asking for in 2016.”
So please hurry up and figure this out, Ryan Albright, because I’m suppressing a serious craving for some ketchup chips right now.