Bitterness remains as Saskatoon company prepares for move to U.S.
A Saskatoon printing company that recently closed after a lengthy strike is being reborn in the United States — amid some hard feelings back home.
After operating in the city for decades, Mercury Graphics shut its doors last December, following a four-month strike.
It was recently purchased by Printing Technologies, an Indianapolis, Ind., firm that wanted to get into the sports, entertainment and transit ticketing business. It has acquired Mercury Graphics's assets and is moving the operation south, where it will be called Mercury Tickets.
When the Saskatoon operation closed, company officials said the business was no longer viable.
Mark LaCoste, who was vice president of sales and marketing with Mercury Graphics, blames the strike for the closure and the loss of more than 100 jobs.
"The strike just destroyed it," he said, "destroyed our opportunity to service our clients."
However, according former worker Ken Cahill, the sale proves otherwise.
"It shows that the company was a viable company, and that there was no real reason to close it," said Cahill, who is among those who spent bitterly cold days on the picket line.
"The role of the strike is an excuse, I believe, to close it down," he said. "One of the owners of the company, the president Blaine Kunkel, mentioned on several occasions that if he couldn't have everything his way he will close the company down."
The most contentious company demand was the elimination of seniority provisions, something the union couldn't agree to, Cahill said.
Even with the Saskatoon operation shut down, a dispute between former workers and the company continues. Cahill and other workers are fighting to get the severance pay they say the company stills owes them.