“Money, money, money — that’s Galen Weston. As long as he can take care of himself and his family that’s all he cares about,” a striking Dominion grocery store worker on the picket line in Newfoundland says in a TV video ad released by the Unifor union Sept. 29.
The strike by 1,400 members of Unifor Local 597 began Aug. 22 at 11 Dominion stores across the province. Workers are fighting for higher wages, more full-time jobs and better benefits. It is one of the most important labor battles in North America today.
Weston, the third richest person in Canada, owns Loblaw Companies Limited, the largest private employer in the country, which in turn owns Dominion Stores.
“And these are the people who want us to work for minimum wage,” says another worker interviewed for the ad. A third person adds, “They want us to do the work of full timers at part-time wages.” More than 80% of workers are classified part time, with limited access to benefits, and without a raise since 2018.
“During the COVID times, we were important, we were heroes, and now we’re not respected anymore,” explains another worker. The Dominion workers are fighting to reverse an insulting attack on their wages when Loblaw bosses cancelled a 2 Canadian dollar an hour raise ($1.50) given to workers when the coronavirus hit. The three-year contract offered to employees would eventually restore only half that amount.
From March to September, as Dominion workers were being driven harder and had their hours and wages cut, the Weston family’s net worth increased by $1.6 billion.
The striking workers need solidarity in their fight. Messages of support and donations to the Dominion workers strike should be sent to Unifor Local 597, 301-55 Bond St., P.O. Box 922 Station C, St. John’s, NL A1C 5L7, Canada, and firstname.lastname@example.org.