Quebec Sobeys warehouse workers strike for pay raise

By Katy LeRougetel
April 25, 2022

TERREBONNE, Quebec — “I’m fed up being run by threats,” striker Patrick Sirois told the Militant  on the Sobeys distribution center picket line here April 9. The 190 United Food and Commercial Workers Local 501 members, on strike since Feb. 7, had rejected a tentative agreement the day before. Sobeys is the second-largest grocery store chain in Canada.

Wage hikes in the proposed seven-year contract, after an initial 6% in the first year, were all under 3%.

“We haven’t been on strike for 44 years and we just want our fair share and to fight for future generations,” striker Alain Madore said. “Little by little they’re always cutting back.”

In 2016, binding arbitration gave workers raises of only 30-cents-an-hour, an experience that fueled determination to plan for effective future strike action, including a substantial strike fund.

A large hand-painted sign by the main picket line says, “Prices, Profits, Sales UP, employees ask for raises according to the cost of living, respect, dignity.”

Sobeys is pulling no punches. “Despite our desire to operate in Quebec, we are currently re-evaluating our entire network of warehouses in the province,” the bosses wrote in a letter to store owners and directors. It was leaked and run in the press. Kim Bergeron, UFCW lawyer and negotiator, replied, “Threats are something we are used to.”

Union members have been spreading the word about their fight by leafleting IGA grocery stores, the Sobeys’ brand in Quebec. Sirois described the reaction they got in Blainville, north of Montreal. “It was extraordinary. The truck divers were honking. The firemen were in front of the store with their sirens going.” And many shoppers were sympathetic.

To find out more, drop by the picket line at 1101 Boulevard de la Pinière O, Terrebonne, or send support to