Rabble Rousing in Grimsby

It began with a march on the banks in downtown Hamilton, but an autumn day of rabble rousing culminated with hot coffee, car stereos and friends at a moonlit intersection in residential Grimsby, Ontario.  We were twenty strong in a town of 20,000.  It was one of the more interesting actions I’ve been to, not least because these things often take place in more urban areas.  The quiet was punctuated by the periodic horns of vehicles whose drivers saw one of our signs: Honk against wage theft!

A local Grimsby restauranteur has stolen the wages of a former employee and refuses to pay despite being ordered by the Ministry of Labour to do so back in January.  We arrived at the restaurant, Portofina’s, with the intention of picketing outside and dissuading potential patrons, but Mr. Szanto beat us to the punch by preemptively shutting the place down for the night.

No matter!  We picketed all the same, met other folks whose wages have been stolen by Portofina’s owners, chatted with the neighbours, and handed out flyers to cars stopped at the lights.  Never have I seen such a warm reception extended to a group of protesters, and there wasn’t a cop in sight.

Wage thief James Szanto still hasn’t paid, but Hamilton’s Steel City Solidarity network hasn’t lost a case yet.  We’ll escalate.  The process is direct action: bring together enough people and engage in creative tactics to pressure bosses into giving back what they owe.  It may seem a simple step, but it’s a big deal to those who have been cheated in the hundreds or thousands of dollars and don’t have a union or other support with which to demand their rights.  It also cultivates palpable (and reciprocal) solidarity.  Admittedly, I’m gushing, but give a girl a break: it’s a demoralizing life for us anti-capitalists, even in light of the recent Occupy movements.

“Who knew the revolution would start in Grimsby?” quipped a friend with a wink.


Filed under Dans Ontario, On Human Connections, Politicking

5 responses to “Rabble Rousing in Grimsby

  1. Ellen Woolaver

    Hello! Our daughter Leslie Woolaver sent us a link to your blog about Nate. I was deeply moved by it (I’m his mother) and wondered if we had met you. I think you might have come to Nate’s birthday party at our home in Toronto. Two years ago we moved to Grimsby, so I was quite surprised to see your blog about Portofinos. It makes me think you might live in Grimsby too! If you’d like to get in touch please send me an email: ewoolaver@rogers.com. And thank you for the blog post. Ellen Woolaver

  2. Ellen,

    It’s a pleasure to hear from you. I left another comment on the post about Nate, but I’ll certainly send you a longer email in the next few days!

    I actually live in Hamilton, not Grimsby, but it’s certainly not far! Funny how all these things come together, no?

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Please keep well.


  3. Johan Alucema


  4. Ellen Woolaver

    Are any of you Steel City Rabble Rousers interested in more revolutionizing in Grimsby (or maybe it’s Beamsville)? Matthew Carroll of Leadnow (matthew@leadnow.ca) is trying to organize a visit to MP Dean Allison’s office tomorrow. You can contact him for more information, and read about it below:

    The Conservatives are limiting debate and rushing the cruel Crime Bill through Parliament so fast that it could come up for a vote early next week. We’re organizing a rapid response action to go right to the MP’s constituency offices – and we need your help to make a big impact.This action will show Canadians standing together against a fill-the-prisons approach to justice that has failed everywhere it’s been tried. Leadnow community members and coalition partners have already signed up to lead actions at 45 constituency offices!We need you. Click here to find your local constituency office and sign up to participate or lead:http://www.leadnow.ca/stop-the-crime-billStand Against the Omnibus Crime Bill!Time is running out to make Canada safer, not meaner. Join a coalition of groups for two days of action to speak out against the cruel Crime Bill.When: Focus on Thursday at 1pm, with actions throughout Thursday and Friday.Where: Our MP’s constituency offices.Message: We’re going to tell our MPs: Don’t mess up like Texas. Stop the cruel Crime Bill.Bring friends, and bring a cowboy hat if you can. We will deliver tens of thousand of petition signatures and a summary of the Canadian Bar Association’s powerful argument against the bill.Our goal is to show cross-country solidarity by reaching as many MP’s offices as possible. All we need is for you and a friend to do the action, and together we’ll send a powerful national message.Click here to find a local action and sign up to participate or lead:http://www.leadnow.ca/stop-the-crime-billWhether you can be part of this or not, we’d love your help to spread this message. Please forward this email to everyone that you think would be interested. We’re all in now.Thank you for everything you do.With hope and respect,Matthew, Jamie, Emma, Adam, Tria, Ryan, Jen, and Anna on behalf of the Leadnow.ca team. Leadnow.ca is an independent community that brings Canadians together to hold government accountable, deepen our democracy and take action for the common good.Support the Leadnow.ca community! You can donate online at:http://www.leadnow.ca/en/donate

  5. Hey Ellen,

    Thanks for the information about the crime bill! Some of us are indeed working on organizing around the justice system, the crime bill, police accountability and brutality, and so on. Unfortunately I was swamped last week and couldn’t be involved with the Thursday-specific action, but thank you for passing along the note. I hope there was a strong turnout. 🙂

    If you do hear of any more things specific to Grimsby, or in the area, let us know! I can always tap into the various networks in Hamilton, especially CUPE 3906, of which I’m a part.



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