Union leaders urge Loblaws to avoid strike

Superstore will face boycott if workers are not offered fair deal

Edmonton – Union leaders representing more than 250,000 Alberta workers urged Loblaws CEO Galen Weston Jr. to present a reasonable offer to the 8,500 UFCW workers at the province's Superstores.

In letters sent to Mr. Weston, the presidents of the Alberta Federation of Labour, United Nurses of Alberta, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, UNIFOR and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, stated unequivocally their support for the members of United Food and Commercial Workers.

"In the event of a strike, we will communicate our concerns about your company's labour relations practices to our members and actively encourage them to not shop at Superstore until a fair agreement has been reached," AFL president Gil McGowan said. "In an economy as vibrant as Alberta's, there is simply no excuse to shortchange the employees whose efforts make your business thrive."

At a press availability at 1:30 p.m. today outside the Superstore at 4821 Calgary Trail N.W., Edmonton, representatives of the largest unions in the province noted that the Loblaws Corporation has enjoyed a banner year, has spent billions on growing their retail empire, but are being stingy with staff.

"My guess is that you and your senior management team have concluded that, order to maintain your market share and afford moves like your recent purchase of the Shoppers chain, you have no choice but to engage in the race to the bottom being led by companies like Walmart," McGowan noted.

After negotiations between United Food and Commercial Workers locals in Alberta and Saskatchewan reached an impasse in September, more than 8,500 members of the union voted 97 per cent to approve strike action. The members were near unanimous in their rejection of Loblaws' last offer, which involved wage cuts of up to 40 per cent, on top of reductions in hours.

If there is no agreement reached by midnight on Oct. 6, workers at Superstores all over the prairie provinces will walk out.

"We understand that the retail market is competitive, but it is also profitable – especially here in booming Alberta," McGowan said. "Instead of joining the pack in a race to the bottom, you can stand out from the pack by being a good employer and a better corporate citizen."

The press conference was attended by Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan, representing 160.000 workers; Alberta Union of Provincial Employees president Guy Smith, representing 83,000 workers; United Nurses of Alberta vice president Jane Sustrik, representing 23,000 workers; Health Sciences Association of Alberta president Elisabeth Ballermann, representing 24,000 workers; and Canadian Union of Public Employees president Marle Roberts, representing 30,000 workers.

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AFL Letter to Galen Weston

CUPE letter to Galen Weston

HSAA letter to Galen Weston

UNA letter to Galen Weston

UNIFOR letter to Galen Weston

AUPE letter to Galen Weston

MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail orokne@afl.org


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