Unifor members at Windsor distillery produce hand-sanitizer to combat spread of COVID-19

WINDSOR—Approximately 160 Unifor members working at Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery in Windsor have switched from producing alcohol to producing hand sanitizer as part of broadening efforts across the country to meet growing demand for supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am incredibly proud of our members at the Windsor distillery. This kind of community response to a global crisis is incredible to see,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Heroism comes in all forms. Make no mistake, these workers are heroes and are helping take care of people in their own backyard and provide people with an increasingly scarce resource.”

The facility has already produced roughly 5,000 litres of alcohol-based hand sanitizer much of which was donated to area hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes over the weekend, delivered by Unifor local presidents and volunteers from area locals including 194, 195, 200, 240, 444, 1959, 2027, and 2458.

“Everything went well. We’re proud to do it and happy to help,” said Steve Taylor, President of Unifor Local 2027 that represents workers at Hiram Walker. “These people are heroes that are in these long-term care homes right now doing what they’re doing and I just want to thank them for all the work they’re doing,” said John D’Agnolo, Unifor Local 200 President.

Workers at the distillery normally produce 180,000 litres of alcohol per day but plans are in place to ramp up production of hand sanitizer from 5,000 litres per week to more than 20,000 litres.

“Frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities need to keep patients and residents safe and these efforts are helping make a substantive difference,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Regional Director. “There are already reports of wide-spread shortages of vital equipment and supplies so having our members step up their efforts at work and get out in to their community to protect the vulnerable is amazing to see.”