On the Picket Line

Newfoundland strikers vote on Dominion’s ‘final offer’

By Beverly Bernardo
November 23, 2020

The 1,400 workers who belong to Unifor Local 597 on strike at the Dominion supermarket chain in Newfoundland started voting on a “final” contract proposal from the company Nov. 9. The balloting continues at the picket lines until Nov. 13.

The three-month-long strike has shut down all 11 of the company’s stores in the province. According to VOCM News, the proposal by Loblaw, Dominion’s parent company, was presented to the union by the provincial government-appointed mediator.

On Nov. 6, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary shut down for the second time a strike picket line at the Weston Foods bakery in Mount Pearl — also owned by Loblaw — despite the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s refusal to grant an injunction against secondary pickets there.

The union is suing the constabulary for violating their right to picket.

Workers struck after overwhelmingly rejecting the company’s offer of a 1 Canadian dollar an hour wage increase (76 cents) over three years, after ending — in the middle of negotiations — the CA$2 hourly wage increase it had earlier instituted as pandemic pay.

Strikers want the cut to be reversed and more workers to be made full time. Eighty percent of the workers are part time. Most earn only the minimum wage of CA$12.15 an hour. 

Unifor members held secondary pickets of Loblaw warehouses in Ajax, Ontario, and Moncton, New Brunswick Nov. 3.

Six workers at a nonunion RONA hardware store in Burlington, Ontario, sent a solidarity card and CA$50 to Local 597. “Keep strong and I promise it will be worth it,” wrote one worker. 

Dominion workers continue to need solidarity. Send messages of support and donations to Unifor Local 597, 301-55 Bond St., P.O. Box 922 Station C, St. John’s, NL A1C 5L7, Canada, or info@unifor597.ca