Toronto-area grocery store distribution centre workers walk out on strike

Click to play video: 'Unifor workers ratify deal with Metro, stores re-open Tuesday'
Unifor workers ratify deal with Metro, stores re-open Tuesday
RELATED: The union represent Metro workers at 27 stores has had members vote to ratify a deal ending a 33-day strike with the grocery chain. Ahmar Khan reports. – Aug 31, 2023

Grocery workers at a Greater Toronto Area warehouse walked off the job Saturday as negotiations between union officials and a major supermarket chain broke down.

The union representing workers at a Sobeys distribution centre in York Region began strike action after rejecting what the Teamsters 419 union called a “lowball offer ” that removed job security.

“We are disappointed with the decision by our teammates to go on strike,” a spokesperson for Sobeys told Global News.

“We have negotiated diligently with the Teamsters to reach an agreement and believe that we have put forward a fair and market-competitive offer to our Teammates.”

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A spokesperson for the union said the dispute had its roots in the unionization process. They said staff at the Sobeys Vaughan distribution centre had voted by 53 per cent to join the union, citing pandemic work conditions and low wages.

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The union said that, over nine days of bargaining, they felt Sobeys had held onto the fact almost half of its employees did not vote to join the Teamsters local.

“They tabled anti-union proposals, including being able to subcontract out their work, non-union employees being able to work alongside the unionized members,” the union said.

The union estimated each distribution centre can supply between 80 and 150 stores, predicting the work action could have a noticeable effect on the day-to-day operations of grocery stores.

Sobeys said it would work to minimize disruption and that it wanted to return to bargaining.

“We can assure you that serving our customers continues to be a top priority, and we are working hard to ensure there is minimal impact on them,” Sobeys said in a statement.

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