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Protest at Cobourg Tim Hortons


By Madeleine Villa [7], Katie Perry [8], and Leah Den Hartogh [9]

BELLEVILLE – A protest is currently underway at the Tim Hortons on Division Street in Cobourg.

The protest is against changes made by a Tim Horton franchise owner after the minimum wage increase came into effect last week. It’s one of a number of protests against Tim’s franchises across Ontario.

People can be seen waving union flags and holding up homemade signs in the parking lot of the Cobourg Tim’s.

The Tim Hortons in Cobourg is filled with protesters supporting Tim’s employees. Photo by Katie Perry, QNet News

There are so many people gathered in the parking lot that protesters are having to stand near the door of the building and cars are having trouble getting into the parking lot.

Cobourg Police have arrived at the protest where they are organizing the protesters so that cars are still able to safely enter the parking lot thirty minutes into the protest.

People driving past are even showing their support by honking at the protesters. However, not every car driving past has shown their support for the protest – one person driving past yelled at the protesters that they should “leave Tim Horton’s alone.”

Ontario New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath [10] made an appearance at the protest where she spoke to the crowd. A mock scrum was created around her in the parking lot.
She wasn’t the only person to speak to the crowd. Dan Tobin, the president of the Northumberland Labour Council, presented a prewritten speech to the cheers of the protesters.
“These employees should not be punished for Ontario’s decision to change the minimum wage. It seems like the owners are attempting to increase their profits on the back’s of these employees,” said Tobin.

Many people are angry with these new changes which include cuts to health benefits and the removal of paid breaks.

One employee may even be quitting her job at Tims because of the cut of paid breaks and benefits according to her friend, Bernice Sampedro.

“My girlfriend, who lives up the street, she’s been working here for 17 years. As of today, she’s looking for a new job,” said Sampedro.

The crowd wasn’t completely full of just locals. People across Ontario showed up in support of the protest.
Lesley Jamieson, the secretary of Kingston Fight for $15 and Fairness [11] and a delegate for the Kingston and District Labour Council [12], said that she came all the way from Kingston to support this protest because she felt so strongly about the cause.

“We’ve been fighting for these changes for the minimum standard for workers for a long time. Now that we have them in place, we have been seeing this backlash,” said Jamieson.

Cobourg resident, Ryuko Tsuji, said that she will be boycotting Tim Hortons from now on.

“I think that they should stop taking away people’s rights. All these franchises are cutting people out and these people are not making a lot of money to start out with. I will boycott them because they’ve got to treat people better,” said Tsuji.

Fred McBride, who has been coming to this specific Tim Hortons for 25 years, said that this Tims has become like a second home for him. 

“I come every day, sometimes twice a day. I feel sorry. They made the jump too quick.”

He said that he will continue to go to Tims just to support the workers.

James Pickersgill, a Cobourg local, found out last week that Tim’s employees at the Cobourg location [13] were facing changes in their employment as of the minimum wage increase to $14 an hour.

Upon hearing this news Pickersgill posted a picture of the memo sent out to the staff on his personal Facebook account. It went viral.

This is the photo that James Pickersgill posted on his personal Facebook account.

The changes include no more paid breaks.

Health benefits have also been changed. Employees who have been with the company over five years will pay 50 per cent of the cost of the benefits. Employees with the company between six months to five years will pay 75 per cent of their benefits cost.

The Cobourg Tim Hortons is not a regular Tim’s. Owner Ron Joyce Jr. is the son and co-owner Jeri-Lynne Horton-Joyce is the daughter of the chain’s co-founders, Ron Joyce and Tim Horton.

As soon as news broke people began boycotting Tim Hortons with the #NoTimmysTuesday.

This picture has been circulating social media since news broke about the cut-backs.

Tim Hortons has released a statement under the title “Staying true to our brand’s values” [14] in which they say they do not agree with the actions of a “reckless few.”

They also mention that these actions “do not reflect the values of our brand.”

The protest will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 970 Divison St, Cobourg.

Premier Kathleen Wynne [15], who passed the minimum wage increase legislation, tweeted in protest of Tim’s policy changes on January 4.