TORONTO-More than 11,000 Unifor grocery store members are preparing to take on Canada’s Big Three grocery giants, Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys, in upcoming contract negotiations. The front-line supermarket workers are seeking pay increases, benefit improvements and more full-time jobs as bargaining begins next month.
“Our grocery workers, like all Canadians, know full well the steep price increases on essential food items and the corresponding record profits reported by the biggest supermarket chains,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “CEOs are laughing all the way to the bank while workers and their families continue to struggle. Our bargaining strategy aims to lift all grocery workers up no matter which CEO they’re up against.”
This round of bargaining begins when contract talks for 3,400 Unifor members across 27 Metro stores in the Greater Toronto Area kicks off on June 26. In total, Unifor represents more than 11,000 front-line grocery store workers at the three large chains across Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
More than 60 local union presidents, bargaining committeepersons, workplace shop stewards, national union officers and staff met May 26-28 in Toronto to identify common priorities for upcoming rounds of bargaining. Over the next two years, Unifor will renew more than one dozen collective agreements with the three grocery giants.
In prior rounds of bargaining, Unifor has negotiated significant improvements for supermarket workers, including new full-time jobs, part-time worker health benefits and inflation-guarded wages, although the industry is still notorious for unstable schedules, limited work hours and substandard pay and benefits.
“We know these companies can all afford to do more to create good jobs for grocery workers,” said Gord Currie, Local 414 President, and retail sector representative on the Unifor National Executive Board. “This is a profitable industry – in fact, it has never been more profitable. Workers deserve their fair share of that success.”
Union leadership identified six core priorities for the upcoming cycle of negotiations, including significant pay improvements that reflect recent record-profits, greater access to health benefits, the elimination of pay disparities between workers, more full-time jobs and job protections for workers affected by tech change, among others.
Unifor members work under many store banners owned by the Big Three supermarket chains, including at Metro, Dominion, No Frills, Food Basics, Sobeys, Your Independent Grocer, Valu Mart, and Freshco.