Loblaws strike: Workers at 9 stores go on strike in Windsor, Ont., area
Some UFCW locals reject deal, while others have ratified it
Workers at nine Loblaws grocery stores in and around Windsor, Ont., went on strike early Thursday, their union confirmed, after workers rejected a deal the company made with union leadership earlier this month.
United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 175 and 633 had set a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday for nine Zehrs and Real Canadian Superstore locations in Essex, Kent and Lambton counties.
Loblaw Co., said all nine stores would remain open, but with modified store hours (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and a reduction of some in-store services.
Loblaws managers and non-unionized employees from across southern Ontario are being sent to Windsor and Essex County to work at stores in the region. At least four cabs dropped off employees at the LaSalle Zehrs, in the bedroom community west of Windsor.
The move comes after workers rejected a deal their union leadership had made with management earlier in June.
"We are asking the people in these communities to not shop at the affected stores," UFCW local president Shawn Haggerty said in a statement.
"These workers are counting on their friends and neighbours for support. Please do not cross their picket lines."
Chris MacDonald, a business professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and the man behind The Food Ethics Blog, says customers are in a tough spot.
"There isn't a clear right and wrong in a case like this. Some shoppers will have clearly pro-union views because of their own union involvement. Others will have an anti-union view depending on what they think of unions," he said. "In a lot of ways, it's fair for them to think of this as a private dispute between the stores and the employees and not to take a strong position. What it means to not take sides isn't exactly clear."
You can listen to MacDonald's interview with CBC Windsor Morning in the player below:
The United Food and Commercial Workers union says 1,600 workers are involved in the legal strike and that negotiations toward a new contract will resume today.
Stores affected by the strike are:
- Windsor Zehrs
- LaSalle Zehrs
- Tecumseh Zehrs
- Kingsville Zehrs
- Two Windsor Superstore
- Leamington Superstore
- Sarnia Superstore
- Chatham Superstore
Those contract negotiations will commence again Thursday at the request of a provincially appointed mediator.
The mediator has requested that neither party offer public statements regarding the negotiations.
Managers and unionized employees at the LaSalle Zehrs both cited the blackout when asked for comment Thursday morning.
Other locals accept deal
The job action is far from unified across the company or the province.
Though other UFCW locals are poised to strike later in the month after rejecting the same deal, many others ratified the agreement.
Local 1000A, which represents more than 60 stores in the Greater Toronto Area, rejected the deal and has set a strike deadline of July 5.
All in all, about half the workers at Loblaws-owned grocery stores ratified the deal, while the same number rejected it.
With files from The Canadian Press