Should you boycott Loblaws? The answer is no. And here’s why…

Due to skyrocketing grocery prices and the broadly held view that Loblaws is being greedy with their prices, there is a movement in Canada to boycott Loblaws stores.

In Alberta, Loblaws operates or franchises Real Canadian Superstore, T&T Supermarkets, Your Independent Grocers, and No Frills.

In the face of the affordability crisis, workers are not receiving the wage increases they need. There is a great deal of frustration out there.

Workers are frustrated. Customers are frustrated. Politicians are frustrated, and the Canadian public is frustrated.

In the midst of this frustration, it is tempting to fight back by boycotting Loblaws stores.
At this point, we don’t think customers or employees should boycott Loblaws stores. While that may become necessary and appropriate action in the future, it is not the right place to start our efforts to push back.

During the affordability crisis, workers need their paycheques more than ever. Loblaws employs a great many part-time workers. A boycott could impact the hours of those workers and negatively impact their ability to make a living at this difficult time.

There’s no doubt that grocery prices need to come down. But we have to be thoughtful and measured in how we achieve that outcome.

Local 401 is concerned about all of our members right now.

Workers at places like Safeway and Sobeys can’t afford to shop where they work. Workers at JBS, Cargill, Olymel, and many other workplaces are in a similar boat.
All workers desperately need wage increases and they need them now.

Unfortunately, a union can’t create wage increases on its own. Employers must agree to pay more.

Local 401 is pushing every employer we interact with to increase wages immediately. That’s easier at workplaces like Cargill Case Ready where we can threaten to go on strike.

But at workplaces where we are not in a strike position, we still need to push employers to Stop the Squeeze and make life more affordable.

At Loblaws, we have recently demanded that the Company increase wages with a $3 per hour affordability crisis circuit breaker for all employees. We will be making similar demands of all employers.

In addition to calls for a boycott, there is also a movement to steal from Loblaws on May 12, 2024. This movement is an expression of just how frustrated people are about grocery prices.

Encouraging people to steal from grocery stores can only be viewed as an expression of the trauma and stress that Canadians are feeling over grocery prices and the affordability crisis. It’s a disturbingly understandable expression of outrage and hopelessness.

But don’t do it! Stealing is a criminal offense, and you could face prosecution. If you are an employee, you will lose your job for stealing.

If you’re working in a Loblaws store on May 12, 2024, do not intervene in any way if you witness customer theft. You are not a security guard, and it is not your job to intervene. The outcome could involve confrontation that may result in personal injury.

Just call a manager.

It’s hard not to empathize with the national movement to boycott Loblaws stores. Every Canadian is feeling the anxiety related to the affordability crisis and struggling to buy groceries. But there are legal and effective methods to fight back.

Connect with and join our Stop the Squeeze campaign.

And remember, boycotting Loblaws only succeeds in hurting unionized workers. Ultimately, we need to support unionized workplaces like Safeway and Superstore where unions like UFCW Local 401 can push employers to do the right thing.

If you want to boycott someone, boycott anti-union and anti-worker Walmart. They operate non-union, American-owned stores with lower wages and benefits, no union contracts, or any real worker rights.

While times are tough and stress feels like it is at an all-time high, we can push politicians and employers to Stop the Squeeze and make life more by sticking together and fighting for what is right through our union!

In solidarity,
Thomas Hesse, President
Richelle Stewart, Secretary Treasurer
UFCW Local 401