When Fellow Worker Brandon Wallans quit his job along with Fellow Worker Stephen Toth at Hype Unisex Salon and Spa because he realized he wouldn’t get paid for several weeks worth of work, and started picketing the business alone, his ex-boss told him she would bring a friend of hers to put an end to his one-man picket. Brandon did not have to wait much longer before an aggressive police officer showed up and started harassing him, writing him tickets for breaking a city by-law before crumpling them up and stuffing them into the fellow worker’s jacket. When from across the street, an ally from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers National building approached Brandon to offer him coffee, he was charged with obstruction of justice. This was the beginning of the wage theft case that the Ottawa-Outaouais General Membership Branch is now fighting on the picket line.
Fellow Workers and community allies have held numerous pickets outside Hype on Bank Street over the last few weeks highlighting the business’ labour practices as well as the rising wage theft incidences across Ontario to the neighbourhood. They have put up with several incidences of police intimidation designed to disrupt their legal and constitutionally-protected picket line.
In the last couple of weeks Hype has been investigated and fined by the city health inspectors for not following proper code, and more recently has been put under an investigation by the Ontario Ministry of Labour in response to complaints and the union pickets. The Ottawa-Outaouais IWW will continue to press for the wages owed to Brandon and Stephen through direct action.