Metro strike gains raise the bar for Canada's grocery store workforce, unions say

Metro strike gains raise the bar for Canada's grocery store workforce, unions say

Experts and union representatives say their new collective deal raises the bar for grocery store workers across the country. We apologize for the inconvenience, but this video has not been loaded.

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To see other videos from our team, tap here. It's the workers' time to be recognized for what they've given to these companies, said Kim Novak, president of United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 1518 in British Columbia.

More than 3,700 Metro workers went on strike at the end of July, rejecting their first tentative agreement, fighting for better pay. On Aug. 31, they voted 'Yes' on a second agreement, which included front-loaded wage gains beginning with a $1.50 hike. The Unifor-Metro deal helps set a floor for future agreements, though they won't be identical, said Stephanie Ross, assistant professor in the school of labour studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. re going to the next tables with a victory in their pocket, she said. Unifor has made it clear that it intends to use the Metro agreement to pattern bargain, allowing it to seek similar gains in upcoming negotiations with grocers. The union said it has 13 contracts with grocers, mainly in Ontario, that will expire before the end of 2024, covering a total of more than 6,000 workers. Another two are currently being negotiated and one recently expired. But Unifor isn't the main union for grocery store workers in Ontario, or in the country. Now, there's pressure on the UFCW to make similar inroads, Ross said.

Stores like 29 on the Lower Mainland, including 29 in New York City, the company said in a statement. While meat, deli and seafood workers are covered by a different agreement, they could be in a position to strike at the same time, effectively shutting down the stores. Work at a grocery store once offered a decent job with good pay, but that has changed, said York University associate professor of labour geography Steven Tufts. The 1990s and 2000s saw unions take concessions in the bargaining table for grocers as they tried to compete with Walmart. Now that the Big Three grocers are on solid ground and report strong profits, Tuft said the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost. The Unifor-Metro deal doesn't mean grocery negotiations will be easy going forward, said Alison Braley-Rattai, an associate professor of labour studies at Brock University. 't shaping up,'she said.

Enough is enough', and that they are pushing not just their employers but their own unions by rejecting tentative agreements that were recommended to them. One challenge is that union coverage for groceries workers is fragmented across the country between different unions, locals and agreements, Tufts said. Unions need to scale up bargaining, so that they can negotiate with employers at a higher level, such as the UFCW's B.C.-based contracts with Save-On-Foods and Safeway. Unions should also work together and strategize their sector-wide bargaining, but likely are not doing that, he said.