A difficult decision left union members torn and frustrated
Alberta Superstore and Liquorstore union members have made the decision to accept the Company’s final offer by 67%.
From October 26 – 30, 2021, thousands of union members from across the province voted both in-person and online on the difficult decision around whether to strike or to settle. The cumulative decision represents three different votes that took place.
In Calgary and area, 66% of union members voted to accept the Company’s offer. In Edmonton and area, 64% of union members voted to accept the Company’s offer. In locations comprising Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Camrose, Red Deer, Lloydminster, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat, 74% of union members voted to accept the Company’s final offer.
For months, your Superstore Bargaining Committee has advanced persuasive arguments in negotiations that were often difficult and challenging about the need to acknowledge the work of Superstore and Liquorstore employees and the importance of making those workers a fair offer.
Superstore and Liquorstore employees worked throughout a gut-wrenching pandemic, making tremendous sacrifices and contributions that led directly to the skyrocketing profits that Loblaws’ enjoyed. Throughout negotiations, those union members consistently expressed the feeling that Loblaws refused to acknowledge their hard work.
In response, Superstore and Liquorstore union members decided to flex their collective muscle and send a strong message to the Company with an overwhelming strike vote. That message did not go unheard.
After a marathon week of bargaining that followed, Loblaws made what it called its last, best, and final offer.
Bluntly, it wasn’t good enough. Superstore and Liquorstore union members deserved much better from a company that claims to champion “blue culture,” where it values its employees.
Loblaws made a choice with their final offer about how they would ultimately value their employees. Actions speak louder than words – and as many union members noted, Loblaws’ actions left much to be desired.
But it was also the case that the offer was significantly impacted by the members’ strike vote. There were real improvements to what the Company placed on the table, despite the fact that those improvements did not go far enough.
Superstore and Liquorstore union members were left with a difficult decision. It was a decision that many of those members agonized over right up until casting their votes. Should the offer be accepted or should Superstore and Liquorestore employees assume the risks of a lengthy strike?
The offer was better than other settlements seen recently in Alberta unionized workplaces. Superstore and Liquorstore employees were successful in fending off concessions. Union members will receive reasonable retro-pay, some modest wage improvements, and have ensured the sustainability of their benefits moving into the future.
Ultimately, Superstore and Liquorestore employees made the decision to survive in a challenging economy and political landscape. Whether you’re a union activist or not, that decision must be respected.
Our work is not done at Superstores and Liquorstores across the province. We cannot allow these stores to become the new Walmart of Alberta.
The new contract provides for substantial additional representation for Superstore and Liquorstore members that will enable us to continue our fight for fairness in stores. We will continue calling for better wages, benefits, and treatment in the coming years. As the collective agreement establishes minimum standards, every day we will be advocating for improved compensation and better rights for Superstore and Liquorstore workers. Additionally, we have substantial new resources for training and educating our Superstore and Liquorstore members.
As a labour movement, our gains are always realized over time and as part of a larger effort that spans years and multiple contracts. As we continue the critical work of building a better workplace, we cannot forget the connection that work has to our larger efforts around building a better world.
Not enough has been done for retail workers in Alberta regardless of who has held political power. And regardless of who is in power after our next election, our union will redouble our efforts to push decision-makers to do better for our members so that the decisions they face around future contracts are not as challenging as this one has been.
Labour laws need to be better. Health and safety laws need to be better. Superstore and Liquorestore workers need to be given a fighting chance against their billion-dollar bosses.
Our greatest achievements are always realized when we make good on our commitment to being “a voice for working Alberta”.
That is a commitment we all have a role in fulfilling. We invite all union members to participate in ensuring that in every effort, every decision, and every breath we take, we are working to improve the lives of all Alberta workers.
Posted on: November 01,2021