(February 9, 2019) – Saskatoon Co-op and representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1400 met again on Friday to discuss a proposal from the Union and the potential for a counter-proposal from Saskatoon Co-op. Unfortunately, the Union was unwilling to continue with the progress that had been made in previous discussions.
Saskatoon Co-op's prepared counter-proposal included a revised version of the second-tier wage structure, which has been the main bargaining point of contention, but included a major compromise—the wage difference between new and current employees in key positions was substantially reduced.
“We came to today’s discussions ready to make compromises because we wanted to get another offer for our employees to vote on and, hopefully, end the labour dispute,” said Saskatoon Co-op CEO Grant Wicks. “At this point in the dispute, it was disappointing to see the Union go back on an understanding we’d already reached, refuse to consider our counter-proposal and then walk away from the negotiations. They were taking TV media interviews while we were still at the negotiating table.”
In Saskatoon Co-op’s proposal, new employees would be paid more—in many cases much more—than competitors (some of which are also represented by UFCW). For example, a new full-time grocery store clerk at the top rate would make between $3,500 and $12,500 more a year than a similar full time clerk at a national grocery chain operating in Saskatoon, and also have industry-competitive benefits.
“Our proposal represents a new bar for alternate wage scales in our market,” said Grant Wicks.
Current employees are still being offered two percent annual raises, back pay, signing bonuses and industry-competitive benefits.
“The Union continues to push binding arbitration, but they have bargained multiple wage tier agreements with our competitors in Saskatoon without arbitration or labour disputes,” said Wicks. “Because the proposal we wanted to share with the Union is strong and includes compromises that employees have asked for, we’re still optimistic that we can work with the Union to share our proposal with employees and give them a chance to vote.”
It’s been more than three months since the UFCW initiated the strike and more than a month since the UFCW gave employees the opportunity to vote on an offer from Saskatoon Co-op.
Since negotiations broke down and the labour dispute continues, Saskatoon Co-op will continue doing its best to serve members and customers.
Updates on hours of operation, store openings and labour dispute will be shared on www.saskatoonco-op.crs.
About Saskatoon Co-op
Saskatoon Co-op is a retail co-operative that has proudly served Saskatoon and area for more than 80 years. Today, Saskatoon Co-op serves more than 118,000 members and many more customers. Retail facilities are located in Saskatoon, Warman, Martensville, Colonsay, Watrous, Hepburn, Dalmeny, Rosthern and Waldheim, for a total of 36 locations. For the five-year period starting in 2013, Saskatoon Co-op allocated more than $53 million to its members in equity and paid over $30 million in cash back. The Co-op paid over $218 million in employee costs, while contributing over $2.5 million to community organizations and initiatives.
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