SURREY, British Columbia, July 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nearly 10,000 retail grocery and warehouse workers across BC, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 247, are voting this week on whether to accept a new collective agreement or issue strike notice against Loblaw, the company that owns and operates the affected 28 Superstore locations and three distribution warehouses in the province.
After union members rejected an initial company offer in April, they voted 97 percent in favour of taking strike action in May.
Loblaw officials returned with a new offer with greater wage increases for long-term, senior employees, an improved and unified wage scale benefiting 6,500 employees, major scheduling improvements for part-time employees, expanded night shift premiums, a commitment to creating 112 full-time positions, signing bonuses for all employees, and other improvements that address some long-standing contract issues.
“At the bargaining table, our committee was clear to the company that, while this is a substantially improved company offer, if it is turned down, we will be supporting our members’ decision by issuing strike notice and setting up picket lines,” said Dan Goodman, President of UFCW Local 247.
Loblaw notified the union bargaining committee that, if union members turned down their offer, the company would be issuing a corresponding lockout notice.
It’s Time to Decide: Voting This Week
UFCW members have been considering this latest offer in union information meetings held last week. Voting also started last week at locations in the Lower Mainland. Following the July 1 long weekend, voting polls continue across BC.
Ballots will be counted on Friday, July 8, 2022, and the results of the vote will be posted on the Union’s website at www.ufcw247.com.
As pressure mounts, thousands of UFCW Local 247 members have registered for picket duty and hundreds of members have received union picket captain training.
If members decide to strike, the union will serve notice on the company and announce the exact timing and nature of employee walk outs and the establishment of picket lines across the affected worksites.
While strike notice is normally 72 hours, as required by the BC Labour Relations Code, it is expected that Loblaw will seek to extend the notice period because the dispute would involve perishable goods.
“This contract is all about pay, fairness, and equity for our members,” said Goodman. “These are inflationary times, and our members have been called pandemic heroes. We all see what groceries are costing these days, and our members are putting those items on the shelves.”
“Our stewards and activists are leaders and have been preparing for any outcome,” said UFCW Local 247 Secretary-Treasurer, Charles Pratt. “This week, our members will decide if this final agreement is enough to meet their needs or if they are prepared to commence one of the largest labour disputes seen in the BC grocery industry in decades. Either way, their union will be there with them.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 247 represents BC workers in the food production, warehousing, and retail industries across British Columbia, and is part of UFCW Canada, with 250,000 members across the country.