Unionized workers at Loblaws Great Food and Superstore are poised to go to the picket lines after voting to reject the framework of a labour deal made between their negotiating committee and the company.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1000A, which together with other locals speaks for roughly 28,000 employees of Loblaws Great Food and Superstores, Zehrs, Zehrs Great Food and Superstore, and Fortinos stores across Ontario, said in a statement late Sunday that members voted to reject their deal in a series of ballots cast in the seven days leading up to Sunday.
"The final [vote] percentages will be provided early this week once all segregated ballots have been considered, but the fact the tentative agreement was rejected won't change," the union said, adding that strike preparations are underway after members had previously given their union a strike mandate with 97 per cent in favour.
The move does not mean that a strike, should it come to that, would affect all Loblaw-owned grocery stores in the province. Local 1000A represents workers in the Ottawa and Greater Toronto Area, and has posted a list of the Great Food and Real Canadian Superstores locations where it represents employees on its website.
For its part, the company declined to offer any specifics about what locations could be affected by job action. "We have a standing agreement with the union that we will not offer details, comments or speculation at this time," Loblaw spokesman Kevin Groh said in a statement.
The union, meanwhile, says it is proceeding with strike preparations.
"As part of the preparations, picket captains have been called upon for training which will be conducted this week," the union said, but adding that a strike is not a fait accompli as union leadership will be "reaching out to the company … to seek a return to the negotiations table."
Workers could be a in a legal strike position as early as July 2, the union said. Working hours, scheduling, wages and benefits have all been issues in the negotiation process.