MONTREAL — Standing strong on picket lines across Newfoundland, 1,400 Dominion grocery store workers are now into the second month of their strike for higher wages and the reinstatement of 60 full-time jobs bosses eliminated last year.
Part-time workers at the stores, who have limited access to benefits, haven’t received a raise since 2018. The strike is one of the most important labor battles in North America today.
The workers, members of Unifor Local 597, began calling for a strike in June after Loblaw Companies Limited, which owns Dominion, ended a 2 Canadian dollar-an-hour wage increase ($1.52) granted to “essential workers” when the coronavirus pandemic broke out and it was harder to get workers to come to work. The company’s proposed contract, which would restore only half of that CA$2 over its entire three years, was overwhelmingly rejected.
Loblaw is owned by Galen Weston, the third richest person in Canada. Solidarity from working people across North America is needed to help the Dominion strikers in their fight.
“I worked for years for Loblaw and I know very well the way they act. I wish the workers a lot of courage and encourage them not to give up,” Louise Bouchard, a worker at the Lactantia milk processing plant in Victoriaville, Quebec, told the Militant.
Bouchard was among 450 workers, members of the Democratic Trade Union Federation of Quebec, locked out on July 15 after the workers had voted to strike. Workers set up pickets at the plant and on Sept. 4 voted by a 92% margin to accept a tentative agreement with the company. The new contract is retroactive to October 2019 and workers will receive wage increases totaling 19.5% over seven years.
“I will never forget that the solidarity of our members is what gives us strength,” Bouchard said.
Solidarity with Dominion strike
“We workers at the Cote-de-Neiges Walmart store in Montreal express our solidarity with your strike to win back your $2 pandemic raise and the full-time jobs that were cut,” said a message signed by 20 workers at the store and emailed to the Dominion strikers Sept. 14. “We have gone through the same experience here on the pandemic pay raise,” adding, “It is our turn to stand together and support each other. Keep up the fight!”
Messages of support and donations to the Dominion workers strike should be sent to Unifor Local 597 at 301-55 Bond St., P.O. Box 922 Station C, St. John’s, NL A1C 5L7, Canada, and firstname.lastname@example.org.