Wine Rack unionized employees begin strike in Toronto area after talks fail

Bottles of wine are seen on display at a liquor store in Cremona, Alta., in this Feb. 7, 2018 file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

MISSISSAUGA — Wine Rack’s unionized workers began a strike Monday in the Toronto area after failing to reach an agreement with the company.

Members of the Services Employees International Union Local 2 voted overwhelmingly on May 11 to strike and failed to negotiate a settlement on Friday.

They say the company has refused to respect seniority in implementing the shift scheduling.

The union also says Arterra Wines, which owns and operates Wine Rack, is insisting that employees in the Greater Toronto Area accept wages set for non-union workers who live outside Toronto.

The union says workers will be picketing at several Wine Rack locations across Toronto.

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Arterra said that it’s disappointed by the union’s decision to strike because it feels its offer was “fair and reasonable.”

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“We are interested in continuing to meet and work with them in good faith, so we can come to an agreement,” said Stephen Murphy, director of operations, in an email.

The company says there is no discrepancy in pay between unionized and non-union employees.

It says just one of its 45 Toronto area stores is closed Monday while some have limited hours. It added that 62 per cent of unionized employees worked on Monday.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bought the Canadian operations of Constellation Brands for about $1 billion in 2016 and operates several wineries and 164 Wine Rack stores in Ontario.

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