The union representing Alberta Real Canadian Superstore issued a press release wherein 97 per cent of employees have voted in favour of a strike.
Scott Payne, labour relations officer at United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 401, said Wednesday that employees voted to strike because they are frustrated with Superstore’s last offer and feel that the company does not value their work and sacrifices.
“Superstore workers did not have the luxury of working from home during the pandemic,” he said on behalf of UFCW 401.
“They were deemed essential and rose to the occasion, going to work every day to put food on the tables of Albertans when they needed it the most.”
Of the 40 Superstores in Alberta, more than 30 had outbreaks, Payne said, with some employees died due to COVID-19 exposure.
“These workers were scared every time they stepped into their stores. They were on the front lines, dealing with the public during the pandemic,” he said.
“They had to fight for minimal health and safety precautions, dealt with overwhelmed and angry customers who took their own anxieties around the pandemic out on them.”
“There is no silver bullet here in terms of answers. There are a wide variety of issues that are causing the frustration expressed by Superstore union members’ 97 per cent strike vote last week, from wages to benefits to scheduling and beyond,” he added. “But if there is a unifying theme to that anger and frustration, it is feeling like they just don’t matter.”
The union said that if a strike occurs, “your union will be asking you and your family not to shop at Superstore, nor any of the Loblaws-owned businesses such as No Frills, T&T Supermarket, or Shoppers Drug Mart.”
Unions are only required to give a company 72 hours’ notice of strike action. “Ironically, the point of taking a strike vote is to attempt to avoid a strike,” said UFCW 401 secretary-treasurer Richelle Stewart. “A strike vote is a tool to tell the company that unless they bargain fairly, employees could withdraw their labour.”
Loblaws, which owns Superstore, commented that: “We do not comment during bargaining, however, this is often a normal part of the process.”