The union for 8,500 workers at Real Canadian Superstore outlets in Alberta says employees have voted overwhelming in favour of a strike to back contract demands.

The United Food and Commercial Workers union represents store workers in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lloydminster and Camrose.

Spokeswoman Christine McMeckan says she can't disclose individual results from stores.

But she says they ranged from 87 per cent to 98 per cent in favour of a walkout.

Julija Hunter, vice-president of public relations for Superstore owner Loblaw, said in an email that the company is committed to reaching a deal. 

McMeckan says a strike or lockout could now occur with 72 hours notice, but further contract talks have been scheduled over the next few weeks.

"It (strike) could happen as early as mid-September, but our focus is always in getting back to the bargaining table and trying to conclude a contract," she said. 

McMeckan, however, isn't optimistic. 

"They (Loblaw) have shown us nothing that says that they're willing to conclude a contract with workers, that they're willing to address their concerns." 

Those concerns include a reduction in hours over recent years, which McMeckan says has made it difficult for workers to perform their jobs.

"Loblaw is trying to basically cut costs at the expense of the workers, and expects them to do the exact same amount of work."

McMeckan says Loblaw is also pushing for wage rollbacks and a two-tier payroll under which new hires would be paid less than existing staff. 

Hunter declined to comment on specifics of the negotiations, but said the company must balance its business needs against the needs of its employees.

Superstore employees in Alberta have been without a contract for a year.

If there is a strike, it could be provincewide or limited to specific stores, McMeckan said.

Loblaw workers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba also are negotiating new contracts.