Lower Mainland Safeway workers vote to strike

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Lower Mainland Safeway workers have voted 98 per cent in favour of going on strike, according to the union representing the grocery store employees.

The union — United Food and Commercial Workers 1518 — says before issuing notice of job action, staff will return to the bargaining table from Sept. 20 to Sept. 29.

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If a strike goes ahead, it would affect about 40 Sobeys locations in the Lower Mainland and more than 3,000 workers, according to a UFCW 1518 news release Thursday.

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UFCW 1518 contends that it is not fair the company rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, while Safeway workers have been offered less than one per cent wage increases a year.

Sobeys never responded to an earlier request for comment on the potential for a strike.

“With a 98 per cent Yes vote, our members are sending Sobeys a message loud and clear: They’re united and prepared to take action if the employer refuses to move on the insulting wage offer that led us to take a strike vote in the first place,” said UFCW 1518 president Kim Novak, in a statement.

“One per cent wage increases are unacceptable. Our members deserve to share in the success of the company they work for, and that means higher wages, access to full time jobs and respect for the hard work they do.”

Another arm of the union — UFCW 247, which represents Safeway’s meat, deli and seafood workers — is also taking a strike vote at the end of this month, according to the press release.

The UFCW calls itself the union for grocery store workers, representing around 140,000 people in food retail countrywide.

The Safeway vote follows labour action by grocery store workers in Toronto, where workers at 27 grocery stores recently ended a month-long strike.

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Meanwhile, Starbucks workers in Surrey and Langley stores have also voted in favour of job action.

Workers in the Clayton Heights’ Starbucks in Surrey and the Valley Centre Starbucks in Langley voted 91 per cent to go on a picket line should a deal not be reached, the United Steelworkers Union said Tuesday.

There are about 50 workers between the two stores, which joined the union in June and July 2022.

The Seattle-based coffee giant had tabled an offer on Aug. 29 that included tentatively agreed-upon language, said the union, but wages and hours of work remain sticking points.

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—with files from The Canadian Press and Cheryl Chan

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