Candlelight vigil held for Heinz workers in Leamington
Approximately 150 people stayed for a candlelight vigil near the Heinz plant Saturday night after the Leamington Christmas Parade.
Some participants came from Windsor, Hamilton and Toronto for it.
Leamington resident Karen Andersen-Miller organized the event to express solidarity for the workers who will lose jobs when Heinz closes the processing plant next June.
"I was moved to give our community an opportunity to show compassion and concern; compassion for the Heinz workers and farmers who'll lose their jobs and contracts," Andersen-Miller said.
The Ketchup Song by Stompin' Tom Connors serenaded the 150 people holding candles at the vigil.
Dino Chiodo, president of the district labour council, called for action from the provincial and federal governments to save the jobs at the plant.
"These jobs should be going no place. These jobs should be staying right here in Leamington," he said.
Negotiations on a closure agreement are underway between Heinz and the union representing the 740 full-time workers.
Adam Vasey of with Pathway to Potential, a group fighting to reduce poverty in the region, was one of the speakers.
"If there aren't significant steps taken to do something, to figure out a way to keep the operations running, it could mean a huge increase in folks on employment insurance," he said. "It would mean an increased strain on all the agencies and organizations that are trying to help out and address poverty currently, but also schools and businesses and even the municipality of Leamington. I think it has a huge ripple effect."
Local officials, as well as the provincial and federal governments, are working to secure a future for the facility.