Unifor says it's in response to letter sent from Loblaw representative saying strike will not lead to better wage offer
Eleven days after 1,400 Dominion employees went on strike across Newfoundland and Labrador, the union that represents them, Unifor, says they have no option but to “ratchet up.”
“We’re going to start to show up at Loblaw-brand stores across the country,” said Chris MacDonald, assistant to Unifor’s national president. “Unifor doesn’t play this game.”
Dominion employees have been on strike since 10:01 p.m. on Aug. 22, after a tentative deal reached by Unifor and Loblaw was rejected by unionized employees.
On Tuesday, a letter was sent to employees by Loblaw vice-president of operations for Atlantic Canada, Mike Doucette, stating the “strike will not result in an improved offer.”
Doucette wrote that the Dominion business in Atlantic Canada has been declining for years, citing investment and expansion in the province by competitors such as Walmart and Costco, as well as a shrinking Newfoundland and Labrador population with less money to spend.
“We’re going to start to show up at Loblaw-brand stores across the country." — Chris MacDonald, Unifor
MacDonald was part of the past negotiations and says he’s yet to see any proof of the claim that revenue is declining.
“When you make those kinds of claims at the bargaining table, it’s usually backed up with some facts,” MacDonald said. “When we ask for those things, we’re not provided anything.”
MacDonald said Loblaw is a “massively profitable” company, despite Doucette writing that profit margins in Newfoundland and Labrador are less than the national average of two per cent.
The information Loblaw reports to shareholders is different than the information reported in the letter sent by Doucette, MacDonald said.
“The profit margin reported to shareholders on the entire organization is 10 per cent,” he said.
A letter responding to Doucette from the Dominion stores bargaining committee for Unifor Local 597 stated the strike isn’t about what happened in the last five months, but rather what’s been happening in the past 30 years.
“Since 1987, our full-time wages haven’t even kept up with provincial price inflation. Most of our members earn under $15 an hour,” the letter said.
Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs with Loblaw, said the intention of Doucette’s letter was to “provide our colleagues the information about the realities of our business in Newfoundland.”
He said that information had already been shared with Unifor and the bargaining committee and was what led them to the tentative deal.
“We just want our colleagues to understand the strength of the recommended offer, which includes annual wage increases and more full-time jobs,” Boudreau said in a statement.