Thanksgiving on the CAMI picket line: One family's story as strike enters week 4
Alexandra and Taylor McCoy both work at the GM plant where it's been a 'rollercoaster' of emotion
While many families are settling into turkey and stuffing around a festive table this weekend, one St. Thomas family will celebrate on a picket line.
Taylor and Alexandra McCoy are both employees at the General Motor's CAMI plant in Ingersoll. They are parents of two little girls and both strike captains in a labour dispute now entering its fourth week.
"It's been difficult. A real roller coaster of emotion because of the uncertainty," Alexandra said Friday.
There are 2800 unionized employees on the picket line earning $250-per-week in strike pay. For the McCoys, that means $500-per-week to support a family of four.
Their biggest fear was that more than half their pay would be allocated for daycare, which was the case until their provider recently agreed to hold their spot.
"There are other members who have not been as fortunate and basically their entire strike pay is going to child care that they don't need," Alexandra said.
The union advised all employees to seek relief from their financial institutions. Taylor said when their bank agreed to defer mortgage and car payments he breathed a sigh of relief.
At least I know the bill collectors aren't going to come knocking this week or next week- Taylor McCoy
He also plans to pick up some minimum-wage temp jobs to help make ends meet.
Financial stress aside, the McCoys said standing united with their co-workers has been a bonding experience, adding they have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend.
"Family and friends have been really great coming over with dishes of dessert or main meals," said Taylor
In between family invites, the McCoys will also dig into turkey and trimmings Monday on the picket line. The potluck feast for some of the 2,800 unionized employees will be a moment of levity in the walkout that began September 17.
"I've been at CAMI for twelve years and I have never felt unity and solidarity like I have on those picket lines," says Alexandra. "There are 2,800 of us all struggling, but we are struggling together."
The company and Unifor have agreed to take a break from talks over the Thanksgiving long weekend. The two sides will reconvene on Tuesday, October 10th.
"We have to stay optimistic," says Alexandra. " We voted 99.8 percent in favour of this strike. We have all the faith in our master bargaining committee."