Superstore strike forces shoppers to debate crossing pickets
8,500 Alberta employees of Loblaw's Superstore on strike as of 12:01 am MT Sunday
All Superstore and Liquorstore locations remain open while negotiations continue between Superstore workers and parent-company Loblaw.
8,500 Superstore workers across Alberta went on strike Sunday morning after last-ditch bargaining failed to produce an agreement. Late Saturday night, a spokesperson with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said the two sides were still far apart on several key issues.
The union says Loblaw's owner, Galen Weston, is out of touch with Alberta's booming needs, which leaves workers scrambling to maintain quality and safety despite slashed hours and high employee turnover.
However, Loblaw says it is hopeful the two sides can reach a settlement soon that both serves customers and reflects what it calls "a sustainable business model."
Superstore employees have been bargaining since January.
The workers' collective agreement expired in August 2012 and workers across the province voted 93 per cent in favour of strike action several weeks ago.
Some shoppers side with striking workers
While the 28 stores across Alberta are open and staffed by managerial personnel, many consumers are choosing not to cross the picket line.
At the MacLeod Trail location in Calgary, managers had five tills up and running — but no lines.
"I have friends who work at Superstore," said Shuan Sturby-Highfield, a shopper. "It's unfair that they should have to go on strike to get a fair wage so we just don't feel that shopping here is supporting them."
Many shoppers cited concerns about employee compensation and said they plan to shop elsewhere until the strike is over.
However, some shoppers said they didn't have a problem with shopping at Superstore because of the cheap prices it offers.
"The only place that's really cheaper or the same price is Walmart and they treat their employees like dirt too so if we were going to go for morals, we wouldn't be shopping at either of these places," said Jennifer Morrison.
Both sides are still negotiating but it's not clear when an agreement could be reached.