Labour Action at Tim Hortons on Division Street

Union representatives from Kingston to Toronto were out in force tonight supporting workers at the Tim Hortons on Division Street.  The media was also well represented.   There were perhaps 150 people all told in the parking lot and spilling out onto the street.  The action started at around 4:30 but got into full swing around 5:00 p.m. when both NDP leader Andrea Horwath and a light rain arrived!  As well as Union reps, the organization known as “Fight for $15 & Fairness” was there as well as the Durham Labour Council and more (details below).  Passing cars honked in support.  A police car arrived but took no action – they were probably coming for a coffee.  There was no indication of a boycott – signs were all about wages and inequality.

It was clear that both media and union supporters saw the issue as wider than the Cobourg franchise – there were no signs directed at the local operation.  There were also few people from Cobourg there!

I noticed these representatives:

Unions & Supporters

  • CUPE
  • UFCW
  • United Steelworkers
  • Durham Labour Council
  • Labour Councils from Kingston, Brockville, Quinte and Northumberland  *


  • CBC News
  • CTV News
  • Global TV
  • City News
  • Local Radio
  • Northumberland News


Below gives an idea of the event. It was generally a cheerful, well behaved crowd. Many wanted to thank Andrea and give her a hug for joining in.


Note: items with asterisk * added after initial posting


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manfred s
13 January 2018 11:58 am

We either are or are not operating in a free market world. I can’t see how there is a viable combination of the two concepts (free market and controlled market) that is sustainable. I also don’t see how we can tinker with one element of a free market environment and expect the market to work as it should, if a free market is really what we want. Having said that, the moment we try to stipulate one or more elements of a free market, we affect all the other ones, eventually, and to keep the illusion of a free market, we in turn, end up stipulating the rest of the elements that make up the free market concept. In short, if we stipulate the ‘wage’ element, we will eventually have to stipulate the ‘price’ element. We can see how that goes over, as in marketing boards and other forms of ‘price fixing’. So, as long as we’re prepared to accept that price-fixing will eventually come into the mix, we can certainly ‘wage-fix’ in the same way. If, however, we are not inclined to accept price-fixing, we are not allowed the discretion to fix any other part of the system either. What we do have to do, is decide which it will be, “free market” or “not free market”. In the meantime, we’ll keep having these arguments about wages that can never be resolved because the market, both buyers and sellers, respond to changes that are introduced and perpetrated by political influences rather than economic necessity. In the current case, we have employers willing to pay only so much for a product, that being “labour”, and the seller, the worker, wanting to raise the price of that product, that being their “time”. In a free market, when the demand and the… Read more »

Walter Luedtke
13 January 2018 9:10 am

Tea-Party Economics 101 according to Duby:
“Raising the minimum wage means that those without valuable skills due to being just out of school, poor language skills, etc. will be unable to find jobs; no rational employer will pay a worker more than he adds to her bottom line.”
On January 5, 1914, Henry Ford stunned the world when he revealed that Ford Motor Company would double its workers’ wages to five dollars a day.
By raising his UNSKILLED employees’ standard of living, Ford created a new pool of customers for his Model T. The Five-Dollar Day helped to bring members of America’s working class into its middle class. Better wages, combined with the affordable goods produced by the assembly line, are cornerstones of the prosperity that has characterized American life for so many of the past 100 years.

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
13 January 2018 10:16 am

I don’t believe that serving coffee and donuts has ever been a job description for the main family wage earner. This type of job was/is undertaken by people who wanted to add some funds to the net family income or by students who wished to have extra spending money. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but $15.00 an hour plus some benefits is a lot of money for no or low skilled jobs. I’m pretty sure Ford didn’t pay his floor sweepers $5.00 an hour…this was the rate for the “line” workers.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  cornbread
13 January 2018 11:04 am

Pretty sure huh?
Ford paid African-Americans and white workers the same $5.00 a day.
Perhaps you should inform yourself further before posting. Such as:
“In Canada and beyond, contract and part-time work is quickly becoming the norm. In the GTA, 52 per cent of workers are employed in some version of precarious work, which often doesn’t provide benefits, pension or even minimum wage.”

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
14 January 2018 12:49 am

“precarious work, which often doesn’t provide benefits, pension or even minimum wage.”

That sounds like a pretty good description of entrepreneurs, the self employed and small business owners.

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
13 January 2018 11:45 am

“By raising his UNSKILLED employees’ standard of living, Ford created a new pool of customers for his Model T.“
So I guess Mr. Ford was a rational employer and paid his worker’s a wage that would add to his bottom line, like “Duby” said.

I’m not sure Henry’s 100 year old solution is up to 2018 standards. Here’s more of that article:
“Lost in the headlines was the fact that the pay increase was not a raise per se, it was a profit sharing plan. If you made $2.30 a day under the old pay schedule, for example, you still made that wage under the Five-Dollar plan. But if you met all of the company’s requirements, Ford gave you a bonus of $2.70.
To qualify for the pay increase, workers had to abstain from alcohol, not physically abuse their families, not take in boarders, keep their homes clean, and contribute regularly to a savings account.
Ford Motor Company inspectors came to workers’ homes, asked probing questions, and observed general living conditions. If “violations” were discovered, the inspectors offered advice and pointed the families to resources offered through the company. Not until these problems were corrected did the employee receive his full bonus.”

Funny you don’t reference your sources Walter. I almost believed those thoughts presented were your own not just a cut/paste job.

And… how did “African Americans” get introduced into this thread?

Reply to  Frenchy
13 January 2018 10:50 pm

Funny you don’t reference your sources Walter. I almost believed those thoughts presented were your own not just a cut/paste job.

And… how did “African Americans” get introduced into this thread?

Never attribute thoughts to Walter. The African American thing is obvious. He finally realized that he had nothing contribute to the original discussion so he wanted to start a new topic.

Reply to  Walter Luedtke
13 January 2018 10:39 pm

Nothing that you wrote refutes my comment that “a rational employer will not pay more to an employee than he adds to her bottom line”. How much did your $5/day worker add to Mr. Ford’s bottom line? Without that information your posting is irrelevant.

Walter Luedtke
12 January 2018 8:11 am

Oh Ok! I think I get it now.
Any minimum wage increases should be pennies at a time over a period of 20 years to give companies like Starbucks enough notice to come up with creative tax avoidance schemes to absorb the shock.
Minimum wage increases should never be imposed by government because it is just a vote-buying ploy. If it is demanded by the opposition it is also a vote-buying ploy.
Minimum wage increases should be suggested by business itself.
Taking the coffee industry as an example, their market research could reveal that low wage customers have decided to brew their own coffee and bake their own cookies.
Under those circumstances a minimum wage increase could help.
Have I got this right?

Mary Jane White
11 January 2018 12:24 pm

It was heartwarming to see so many out to support workers.

That being said, I feel that this whole issue has not been fully understood. I don’t believe the average person understands the complexity of the issue … from what the franchise owner is obligated to do… to many other costs associated with running a business and many just seem on board to bash the wealthy.

The bottom line here is… no one is against an increase to the minimum wage… but many are against the minimum wage being increased at such a rate in such a short period of time (I.e. right before an election…. just connect the dots) … the Provincial Liberals should have been slowly increasing the minimum wage over the many years they have been in power. This would never have been an issue if the increase was done more gradually… and with more support for business owners.

This is purely a desperate grab for votes.

Reply to  Mary Jane White
11 January 2018 1:29 pm

So true Mary Jane, but it is much harder to get people to research both sides of the debate and make an informed opinion than it is to just whip up the troops with startling headlines and short sound bites. Be they true or not.
As for this issue being a desperate grab for votes, who thinks Andrea Horwath would have shown up if there wasn’t a provincial election just around the corner?

Mary Jane White
Reply to  Frenchy
11 January 2018 1:46 pm

Agree! Forgot about Horwath attending… because I thought the protest was not union related!

Even Horwath’s comments were very geared toward the election… she could have been anywhere.. I might have believed her had she sprinkled her comments with a reference to Cobourg and the protest at hand!

I must reiterate … a raise in minimum wage is great and much needed.. please address the fact that the Liberals did nothing about the minimum wage until a few months prior to an election which now has business owners scrambling.. This is the real issue here.. not the increase in minimum age.

Reply to  Mary Jane White
11 January 2018 2:13 pm

So does that mean you will now vote against Wynne because she implemented a raise? What would Patrick Brown have done, look over to see what Mike Harris did and copy it??

Who cares what the motivation was, a raise was needed and it came and anybody who thinks that the ‘raise fairy’ brought it is nuts. Of course it is political.

Mary Jane White
Reply to  ben
11 January 2018 2:17 pm

See no one is reading the issue here… Ill try to keep it as simple as I can.

No one is against the increase in minimum wage.

There is concern about the short time frame in which to implement it.

Reply to  ben
11 January 2018 3:11 pm

He still doesn’t get it Mary Jane.
Ben, the raise isn’t political… the timing of it is. Don’t you (and everyone else) feel just a little bit used by getting caught up in the frenzy of this whole thing?
You’ve posted links to, and quoted a couple of articles on this topic, go back and read them a couple of more times with a clear head.

Reply to  Frenchy
12 January 2018 10:24 am

Don’t be so silly Frenchie (give us your real name and then we will know what to really call you) Anything done by the government is political and the timing doesn’t matter! If the government had done this immediately after being elected you and your wage hating buddies would be still saying the timing was political – so what, the workers got a raise and you don’t like it.

Reply to  ben
12 January 2018 1:01 pm

Just call me Frenchy, I’m OK with that. Call me 442-877-304 if you want.
I don’t know what a “wage hating” person is but I’m pretty sure I’m not one, and don’t think I have any acquaintances that are. I’m glad the minimum wage was raised, just not so sure it was rolled out correctly.
I personally don’t care if the TH workers get $15.00 or $25.00/hour. I don’t patronize Tim Hortons so I don’t care what the price of their coffee is. When things (be it coffee or the wages of people who serve it, or cars and the people who build them) get too expensive, everyone make adjustments and changes. You do that in your home budget and your personal routine and buying habits too.
We’re all going to have to chip in a little with this general wage increase. I don’t mind chipping in my share.

Reply to  ben
12 January 2018 3:34 pm

How do you think that a young person (or senior for that matter) who can’t contribute $15/hour to an employer’s bottom line will find a job? People who are unable to comprehend economics think that raising the minimum wage is a good idea; intelligent people do not.

Deborah OConnor
Reply to  Dubious
12 January 2018 7:07 pm

O Wise One, Sir Dubious who is so intelligent. Please explain to us lower proletariats, who are not intelligent at all, why raising the minimum wage is not a good idea.

Silly me, I thought paying workers enough to pay the rent and feed their families is a good idea for everyone. Where did I go wrong?

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
12 January 2018 9:34 pm

Raising the minimum wage means that those without valuable skills due to being just out of school, poor language skills, etc. will be unable to find jobs; no rational employer will pay a worker more than he adds to her bottom line. Higher minimum wage will add an incentive to replace workers with machines or import goods from lower wage countries. Higher minimum wage will adversely impact customer service since employers cannot afford sufficient staff without raising prices. Those previously earning slightly above minimum wage will feel entitled to a wage increase so that they again earn more than the minimum. In the best possible result, higher pay will result in higher prices for everyone resulting in inflation.

What about the impact is not obvious?

Bill Thompson
Reply to  Frenchy
11 January 2018 2:21 pm

Horwath’s wasting her time thinking this will help her election chances.This is Ontario …Liberal through and through for how many years ?
“Anything but ……….is the motto and rallying call despite becoming a Have Not province .and working on becoming a Have Not country .under Liberal leadership . but that’s OK. No lessons learned by the sheeple..

Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas
Reply to  Mary Jane White
11 January 2018 7:16 pm

I agree the minimum should have been raised long ago.. But employers should count their blessings that they had such a cheap ride for so long. The #fight415 is happening everywhere and has already been passed into law in Alberta and some places in the U.S. Over the past year ( maybe longer) numerous presentations were made by various groups including businesses and their unions- oops – associations. I can’t believe employers didn’t see this coming . Why didn’t they better prepare themselves?

Reply to  Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas
11 January 2018 9:07 pm

In the case of these particular employers it appears they could have had an even cheaper ride, but they chose not to. Sounds like TH Cobourg employees received higher than minimum wage, had paid medical/dental benefits, paid breaks and at least one extra day off per year. Some of those things are luxuries that not even some business owners have. These particular employers have also promised to review the situation once everything shakes down with an eye towards reinstating some or all of the benefits.
As far as being better prepared… what could they have done prior to January 1st? I think they were prepared as much as they could be and you’ll find business owners preparing more all the time. They’ve even got robots to flip hamburgers now,
What next, computers to take your orders at McDonalds? Oops, already got that.

Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas
Reply to  Frenchy
12 January 2018 12:37 am

Yep- technology is moving forward with or without minimum wage increases. Tim Hortons will do just fine. Don’t you worry. The workers are the ones who are struggling to make ends meet. Yep Tim Hortons could have and should have raised the wages of their staff long ago. What were they waiting for? I guess they were hoping they could have this cheap ride forever and depend on the government to only ever add pennies to the minimum wage. Oops – that’s what they did!

Reply to  Linda MacKenzie-Nicholas
12 January 2018 9:17 am

Linda, did you even read this part?
Sounds like TH Cobourg employees received higher than minimum wage, had paid medical/dental benefits, paid breaks and at least one extra day off per year. Some of those things are luxuries that not even some business owners have.
Tim Hortons (the company) can’t raise the wages of front line workers but the Cobourg franchise(s) can and did. It appears this particular franchise (the one you are demonstrating against) was doing what you are asking for.

Reply to  Frenchy
12 January 2018 10:20 am

If the th on division was doing all Linda asked for howcum they are going to be losing $25 a week from their pay cheques?

Reply to  ben
12 January 2018 11:35 am

Sorry Ben, I thought she was asking for “Tim Hortons could have and should have raised the wages of their staff long ago. “
It appears this franchise was paying wages raised over the minimum level and providing benefits along with that. I wonder what those benefits are worth per hour?
Losing $25.00/week? I need to see the math on that one (not yours).

John Draper
Reply to  Frenchy
12 January 2018 11:45 am

I think that number comes from a comment made by one employee who said his paycheck every two weeks would be $51 less. i believe he was referring to the increased deduction required to pay for a larger share of his benefits. There were no additional details provided in that report. This was in an early CBC report .

Reply to  John Draper
12 January 2018 3:03 pm

Yeah, I saw that John. He was only speculating though (Jan 3rd dated article) as their biweekly paycheques won’t come out until today at the earliest. Then he’ll know for sure what the number is, might even be higher, who knows. I do hope someone gets back to him to confirm his calculations, otherwise that number could just hang in the air and end up becoming gospel.

Robert Washburn
11 January 2018 11:16 am

The Loyalist College Journalism program (QNetNews – did a live hit and has posted stories, along with social media. Cobourg Media’s Graham Beer also provided coverage.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Robert Washburn
11 January 2018 12:25 pm

the url should be

Old Sailor
11 January 2018 9:46 am

From my reading of the ongoing saga between Tim Horton franchisees and the Tim Horton parent company, the problem is not with the employees or the franchisee owners, it is with the parent company. Which is Restaurant Brands. There goal appears to be to maximize their earnings per share and burden the franchisees with costs as much as possible.

I have not seen a discussion on why the price of donuts and coffee has not risen with the new increase in labour costs. Perhaps the franchisees are not allowed to increase prices while increased costs are theirs alone to bear.

Keep your eyes on the new longer lineups at local food and box stores as they quietly reduce cashiers without any press. This increase in the minimum wage should have been phased in starting two years ago. Not just in an election year.

11 January 2018 9:20 am

Two sides to every Coin
How hard do you think it will be to attract small business and new start up employers to Cobourg now !
and if you think that Unions are the solution wait until you see how much will come out of your pay cheque for that little peace of mind .

11 January 2018 9:11 am

It was indeed a ” community rally ” with a ton of media attention .

11 January 2018 8:32 am

I fully agree that sizable wage and cost of living hikes are required — not just for employees but across the board Its been a long time coming from the province and Feds
Seniors on CPP ,OAC and the disabled they only saw a .8 % increase last yr keep fighting for everyone
that needs an increase not just the Timmy,s employees

Dan Tobin
11 January 2018 1:16 am

Northumberland Labour Council along with Durham Region Labour Council organized the Rally. Labour Councils from Kingston, Brockville, Quinte, Northumberland, and Durham were all there.

10 January 2018 9:50 pm

Definitely not just union representatives + a few others. Many of my neighbours and friends were in attendance, none associated with labour organizations. I hope that the demonstration raised a lot of awareness among people who weren’t cognizant of the Tim Horton’s situation (although I don’t know how that’s even possible). I’ve also heard that the count was 250 people.

Deborah OConnor
10 January 2018 9:26 pm

Thanks for giving today’s rally such thorough coverage, although I would like to clarify a few things. This was no “labour rally”, it was a community rally that also included Labour. These rallies in Cobourg, and all around Ontario, are happening as one of the results of years of hard work by groups like Fifteen and Fairness, Raise the Rates, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Rank & File, a few big unions like CUPE and OSPEU and local Labour Councils and the Ontario Federation of Labour. All of us have been working in our communities for a real raise in minimum wages and social assistance rates as part of the fight for justice in Ontario.

It was all of us, working together, who brought out such a crowd today, all of them supporters of this campaign for justice. Many of us are not union members. For years the business interests have worked together to keep wages low and employment standards inadequate. What we’re seeing now is the result of working people getting together to fight back. The fun is just beginning!

Dan Tobin
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
11 January 2018 1:17 am

well said Deborah

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Deborah OConnor
11 January 2018 2:35 am

It felt right to be there. Good tribute Deb.