• authored by weiser
  • published Sun, Mar 31, 2002

Westfair Strike(s)

It's amazing how much extra Westfair can pay when it wants to. You can bet they weren't losing money either:


It's a workers' market in Calgary
The Province (Vancouver), October 2, 2000, p.A2.

It's the hottest word in Calgary's sizzling job market these days - incentives.

From small businesses to large corporations, demand for workers in Calgary has hit record levels, leaving employers with little choice but to sweeten the pot as they search for staff.

Cash bonuses, loyalty incentives and advancement opportunities once found only in executive searches have become the tools of the hiring trade for the most understaffed areas of the workforce.

'It has everything to do with the way the economy has gone in the past year,' said Byrne Luft, regional director for Manpower in Calgary, an agency which fills vacancies for companies.

'The wages may be the same but the difference is the perks you are seeing.'

Heading into the Christmas rush, the retail and service sectors are most desperate for workers.

Grocery stores and warehouse operators are offering cash bonuses to lure workers, while some small businesses have sparked an all-out hiring war with each other….

…In the labour sector, businesses are using cash incentives to lure employees. Westfair Foods Ltd. - owner of The Real Canadian Superstore - is offering $3,000 cash bonuses to new employees who complete 1,500 hours of work.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Mar 31, 2002 2:20pm

It seems that Loblaws thought that Westfair was a pretty good money maker:


Calgary Herald, November 27, 1999, Final Edition, p.C6.
Supermarket giant Loblaws Inc. is offering $8.9 million, amounting to at least a 215 per cent premium, for all Class A shares of Calgary-based Westfair Foods Ltd. it doesn't already own.

The offer is $300 a share for the remaining 44 per cent of the 87-year-old food distributor's non-voting Class A shares. Loblaws owns all of Westfair's common shares. The last trade of Class A shares on the Winnipeg Stock Exchange was Nov. 16 at a price of $95.

The offer is conditional on gaining half of the available shares 21 days after the offer is mailed. In late October, Westfair sold all the shares in subsidiary Westfair Properties Ltd. to Loblaws Properties Ltd. for $835 million worth of Loblaws Properties shares. Westfair Properties owns substantially all the real estate leased to Westfair Foods for retail sites.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, Mar 31, 2002 4:06pm

Ah ha, so there we go. The company has money but just doesn't want to give any away at bargaining. Is it that the company has become accustomed to a certain relationship with the union and sees that slipping away? Is Westfair taking a hard line with the UFCW because the members are gettin' too damned persnickety?

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Apr 1, 2002 4:38pm

If you check out the company's financials (see page 12) you will see that net earnings have nearly doubled since 1996. Despite that, the UFCW keeps cutting deals.

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Apr 1, 2002 4:53pm

Loblaws want to take the company private so you can't see these sorts of reports.


The Company successfully competes in the Canadian food distribution industry. Its operating philosophy is indicative of its long-term objectives of security and growth. The Company employs various strategies, some of which may carry some short-term risk, in order to achieve these objectives and to minimize the impact of perceived threats related to competitive erosion and loss of cost advantage.

Strategies employed by the Company include the utilization and refinement of a variety of store formats, sizes and banners in order to appeal to the changing demographics of various markets. By developing and operating new departments and services that complement the traditional supermarket, the Company competes effectively and efficiently in an evolving market where non-traditional food retailers continue to increase their offerings of products typically associated with supermarkets. The Company pursues a strategy of enhancing profitability on a market by market basis by selecting a store format, size and banner that is the best fit for each market. By operating across Western Canada through corporate, franchised and associated stores and by servicing independent accounts, the Company strategically minimizes and balances its exposure to regional and industry economic risk.

A significant competitive advantage is provided by participation in the Loblaw Companies Limited controlled label program. Products such as President's Choice, no name, Club Pack, GREEN, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, HIGHER STATE, KLOZ FOR KIDS and EXACT enhance customer loyalty by offering superior overall value and provide some protection against national brand pricing strategies.

The Company will enter new markets when the opportunities arise. The Company will also exit a particular market and reallocate assets elsewhere when there is a strategic advantage in doing so. The success of these strategies depend to a large extent on the strategic deployment of the Company's financial resources. The Company maintains a strong balance sheet in order to minimize its vulnerability to short term earnings pressure and to provide a stable base for long term growth.

Low cost, non-union competitors are a threat to the Company's cost structure. The Company is willing to accept the short term costs of labour disruption in order to achieve competitive labour costs for the longer term which helps to ensure long term sustainable sales and earnings growth. There were no labour disputes in 2000. In 2001, 9 labour agreements affecting approximately 4,800 employees will be negotiated with the single largest agreement covering approximately 2,100 employees. In addition, a major agreement that expired in 2000 covering 4,700 employees remains to be completed in 2001.

Management's objective is to continue to negotiate longer term contracts to provide a more stable labour environment. The Company has good relations with its employees and unions and, although possible, no labour disruption is anticipated….

Continued growth is expected in 2001.

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Apr 1, 2002 5:05pm

2001 wasn't too bad either. And they expect good things for 2002. Y'know, isn't it funny that the UFCW never mentions how well Westfair is doing.


Westfair Foods Ltd.
3225 - 12th Street N.E.
Calgary, Alberta
T2E 7S9

Sales increased by 12.6% to $1.8 billion for the third quarter ended October 6, 2001. Same-store sales for the quarter increased by 6% including the effects of some food price inflation, which eased considerably in the latter half of the quarter. Sales growth for the third quarter was consistent with the results for the year-to-date.

During the third quarter of 2001, 8 new corporate stores were opened (2000 – 1 store). For the first three quarters of 2001, a total of 10 new corporate stores were opened (2000 – 3 stores), resulting in a 4.3% increase in net square footage.

Operating income for the quarter increased $4 million or 5% to $74 million; and operating margin decreased from 4.3% in 2000 to 4.1%. Operating income for the year-to-date has now increased $23 million or 14% with an operating margin of 4.4% as compared to 4.3% in 2000. These year-to-date margin improvements resulted from a combination of better mix management and cost control.

Increases in short term borrowing resulted in short term interest expense of $1.6 million in the quarter compared to short term interest income of $8.1 million in 2000; and the year-to-date interest expense of $5.4 million compared to short term interest income of $12.0 million in 2000. The effective income tax rate for the quarter and on a year-to-date basis decreased as compared to the prior year in line with statutory rate reductions to approximately 42%.

Third quarter 2001 net earnings decreased 1.7% from last year to $42.6 million. Trailing year net earnings improved 12% to $169 million versus the $151 million earned during the comparable period at the end of the third quarter of 2000.

Capital investment of $29.9 million during the quarter and $53.9 million for the year-to-date reflects the Company's continuing commitment to maintain and renew its asset base and invest for growth. The 2001 estimated capital investment remains at approximately $70 million. Operating cash flow for the quarter of $41.5 million is consistent with the comparable period of 2000.

Effective January 2, 2000, the Company adopted, retroactively without restatement, the new Canadian standards for 'Income Taxes' and 'Employee Future Benefits'. The combined effect of the initial adoption was a decrease in retained earnings of $11 million.

The sales and earnings growth trends experienced year-to-date are expected to continue into the last quarter of 2001 and into 2002.
David R. Jeffs Director & President
Israel Chafetz Director
Calgary, Alberta
December 4, 2001

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Mon, Apr 1, 2002 6:02pm

This kind of information is dynamite at negotiations. It can also be used to raise awareness in the community about the company's real financial position and what the real impact of the union's demands on that financial position would be.

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, Apr 2, 2002 6:50am

It's sad when the MFD has to publicise what the UFCW negotiators should have been distributing for years. I'll bet you many of them have never even thought to look at Westfair's financials.

This stuff will disappear in the near future. Loblaws wants to buy all the Westfair shares, so Westfair financials can't be broken out. Then they can say to the union, "sorry, yes we are making billions, but your group of stores is losing money."

If you look at Westfair's history, you will see huge increases in profits--year after year. If you look at Westfair's profits, you can figure out what the competition is doing as well.

Remember when Westfair was giving $3,000 bonuses to stay with them for at least 1,500 hours? You will see it was a drop in the bucket. These guys are rolling in dough, and about the only issue the UFCW has with Westfair is that they don't give their employee's no respect.

What about a decent paycheque?

  • posted by Richard
  • Tue, Apr 2, 2002 8:58am

I think this says it all.

  • posted by Shadow
  • Tue, Apr 2, 2002 9:28am

There's that darned affidavit again. That Andy, bless his heart for taking the time to swear that out. Has MFD ever thought about interviewing him? It's been a while and he may have some insights on the whole messy business.

  • posted by weiser
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 8:18am

I see Nugget, on another thread, says that her business agent is hanging out in Saskatchewan. No doubt, he's helping with the UFCW Local 1400/Stupidstore strike.

While it may seem like a noble thing to do (sending paid reps from all over Canada to help with a strike), in reality, it's indicative of how little they think of their members.

Local 1400 boasts a training center; yet they can't manage a strike by themselves? What the hell do the MRs from the other Stupidstore locals know about anything that the Local 1400 members want and need?

The out-of-town MRs are part of the problem. They are part of the system that created the Stupidstore contracts. They are the ones who don't return calls. They are the ones who tell members, "that's just the way it is."

What the hell do they know about Saskatchewan labour laws? They are nothing more than highly-paid picketers who are put up in nice hotels and get to collect extra out-of-town per diems. They will fly back and forth thinking they are contributing all the while neglecting their members in their home provinces.

These guys feel their most important when they are on a jet and when they can tell their members they were needed out of town. It makes them feel and look important.

The Saskatchewan strike won't be won by paid MRs, it will be won by the Power Source.

  • posted by <rebelwithoutapause>
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 8:32am

It would make more sense to get other unions and their members out to the picket lines and maybe even get some community groups out to show support. You build more community solidarity that way.

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 8:38am

That's a very good point REb, do you know anyone in another union? approaching people isn't as hard as people think and other unions are often very willing to pitch in and lend a hand.

  • posted by <rebelwithoutapause>
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 8:47am

They should go to their local labour council (ufcw are probably members) or labour federation. That's why those guys exist isn't it? To give support when other brothers and sisters need it.

  • posted by weiser
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 12:39pm

What's amazing is that the Alberta Superstores expired August 12, 2000. Gee, that's a long time without a contract. Alberta Safeways exired March 16, 2001.

What's the hold up? Westfair is extremely vulnerable right now with Saskatchewan on strike. Alberta Superstore employees have a long way to go to catch up with Alberta Safeway employees. In fact, if Superstore got a whopping big increase, it would be easier to get a whopping big increase for the Safeway members.

Westfair Foods seems to be doing alright in the money department.

What's the hold up Local 401? Is there anyone there with the cajones to lead the march to victory, or are we just going to wait and see what crumbs fall off the Saskatchewan table?

  • posted by <New Green>
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 1:16pm

Hi guys,

Glad to hear the debate is still going strong. As we speak, I will be heading to do Picket Captain duty tonite from 4pm - 9:30pm.

I was wondering if anyone could tell me what the top rate of the UFCW Superstore employees in Alberta make; and what the UFCW Safeway employees in Alberta make.

We are being told that Local 401's dougie is coming to visit us (more plane rides : ) ) on the picket lines this week.

I sure hope he pulls 401's members out on strike soon.

Any other ideas how we can 'hurt' the employer and get them back to the bargaining table???

In solidarity, NG.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 1:37pm

I'm sure somebody around here can get you the information about the rates at the Alberta Superstores. As far as pressuring the employer is concerned, you should ask your union reps if they are planning any of these:

1. Asking other unions in the area to come out and bolster your picket lines.

2. Getting media attention, such as getting media people out to the picket lines where they can hear from the workers themselves what the strike is all about.

3. Getting support from community and activist groups.

4. Organizing a boycott of the company's other stores.

5. Publicizing how well the company is doing financially and how much the workers are getting or have given up over the years to help the company grow and prosper.

6. Secondary picketing of other company operations, suppliers or any special events the company is holding while the strike is on.

7. Having members who are on strike come out to meetings of the local labour organizations (like a district labour council or labour federation) and talking about why they're on strike and what those orgs can do to help them.

- a few other things that you and your fellow members can do:

- Keep MFD informed of the progess of the strike.

- Come online here at MFD and tell us what's important to you, what it's like to work for Westfair and what it's like to be taking a stand for what you believe in.

That's just as short list. I'm sure others have more ideas.

Hang in there and keep us all posted. (How about doing a "report from the picket line"?)

  • posted by weiser
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 2:02pm

You can print off and distribute the Westfair financials too.

Perhaps you'd like to picket the Westfair Foods distribution centres as well.

Demand that Dougie O take action against Westfair in Alberta. The UFCW likes to brag about its numbers, so its time to demonstrate that those numbers translate into power. If they don't, then who gives a damned how many members the UFCW has. They can't or won't be used to benefit the membership at large.

  • posted by Secret Agent
  • Wed, Apr 3, 2002 3:26pm

Say hi to Doug for everyone here at MFD. Why not ask him if he'll do an interview with MFD?

I like weiser's idea about putting a move on in Alberta. Management hates having to fight a war on more than one front. It's like multi-tasking. Tough to do when the right hand and the left hand don't communicate very well.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Apr 6, 2002 3:29pm

Look who tops the list in revenue in Calgary, but is always near pulling out of the market: UFCW Grocery Stores

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Apr 6, 2002 4:43pm

Westfair tops the lists as a big money maker and a huge employer. They have loads of dough to expand, yet the UFCW won't take Alberta out in solidarity with the striking Saskatchewan workers. Why is that?


Extra Foods finds room for rural expansion: Non-metro mini-superstores the next step in grocery evolution
BY: Mairi MacLean; Journal Business Writer
Edmonton Journal, September 22, 2001, Final Edition.

The Extra Foods grocery-store chain - a longstanding presence in smaller communities across Western Canada - is in expansion mode.

'We are in a new building program,' said David Ryzebol, spokesman for Calgary-based Westfair Foods, parent company to the three grocery chains.

'The Ponoka store is brand new, Stettler has a brand new store and we should be opening one in Sylvan Lake in the near future.' At 40,000 - 45,000 square feet, the newest generation of Extra Foods are 'mini-superstores,' comparable in size to the first superstores the company began opening across Western Canada back in 1979.

'At the time, people were talking about how you could get lost in the store, you need a map to get around, how many football fields you could fit in the store.

'Now our (urban) superstores sit at 145,000 square feet, and Extra Foods are running as a smaller version of the conventional stores.' The idea was to bring the price points and wider selection of merchandise available in their metro stores to smaller communities,
Ryzebol explained.

'People generally drive one to two hours for better price and selection.

'We're providing them with one-stop shopping at a discount-type store in their community.

'Some can hardly wait.' Extra Foods, corporate cousin to Real Canadian Superstore and Real Canadian Wholesale Club, now has about 90 outlets from Northwestern Ontario to the Lower Mainland.

Asked if the program is a response to Wal-Mart's expansion into smaller cities around Alberta, Ryzebol said the Superstore format has always included a major non-food component.

'Since ‘79, almost half the store has been non-food,' Ryzebol said, 'and we've continued to develop our non-food lines since then.' Westfair's strategy to take the mini-superstore format into smaller communities is a sound one, said University of Alberta business professor Paul Messenger. 'They are well-positioned for non-metropolitan areas, where a niche strategy is not very effective because there is not enough market for very specialized stores,' he said.

'You have to be more middle of the road, and their positioning for non-metro areas is very suitable for just that reason. There's a critical mass of people in mid-income levels who are highly price conscious and want to benefit. It will play well." Ryzebol said success with the three factors of lower price, one-stop-shop and merchandise mix is driving the growth of all companies owned by Westfair, which is itself a subsidiary of
blue-chip Toronto giant Loblaws.

Westfair also has a couple of hundred independent franchise stores that operate in smaller markets under the Lucky Dollar and Shop Easy brands.

'We're not one to brag, but we've probably had the most aggressive expansion program of any retailer in Canada,' Ryzebol said. 'It's a vibrant company that's looking at sites and planning a lot of renos.' Having an ongoing program over the past two decades is part of the continual evolution of Westfair, a company established back in 1912.

'If you look back at how much grocery stores have changed - the corner grocery in the 1950s with two aisles, the butcher at the back, till at front, often with a house attached, then the supermarkets in the 1960s, which were all of 10,000 square feet and considered extravagant - there have been huge changes,' said Ryzebol. 'It's a very dynamic, aggressive business.

'If you don't pay attention to the consumer you disappear, because ultimately, the consumer votes every day, in the form of money' (in the cash register).

Is it because Westfair is a source of lots of new members for the UFCW? Is it because the UFCW isn't automatically entitled to the Extra Foods employees? Are they going to be given freely to the UFCW or will the UFCW have to actually organize them? Will the UFCW have to "trade" something to get all the new Extra Foods employees?

  • posted by Richard
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 8:28am

Here's a document that's a bit old, but it gives you an idea of what Westfair is about. Loblaws

What's interesting is how controlling employee behaviour is so important and, therefore, "relationships with unions are important."

You'll notice that mention is made that Safeway's biggest problem is cost containment because its labour costs are so much higher than its unionized competitors. When you think about it, that's the only way food retailers compete. The guy who pays the least makes the most money.

As a retail employer, if you are constantly under the threat of having a hard-nosed union organize your employees and, thus, forcing you to increase your your costs and lower your competitiveness, you are better off if the entire retail food sector is organized with a weak union.

There is mention in another thread about master agreements. Master agreements are good as long as they are bargained by a strong union. That's what the Retail Clerks tried to accomplish, but to do that they wanted a monopoly. Now they are the UFCW and the UFCW holds a near monopoly on food workers. That's not good.

Something has gone very wrong in retail food. Employers seem to have gotten a competitive edge over the other players, and then the other players have asked for the same edge, and then the original player comes back for an even greater edged. The union gets richer with multitudes of part-timers and the workers get poorer by the minute.

There is no real competition. The employers wouldn't mind paying a clerk $50 an hour as long as the competition was forced to pay $55 per hour. Who is at fault, the employers or their "partner" union?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 10:47am

The swell thing about how the retail food business operates is that if everyone paid high rates everyone's profit could be relatively equal. The ones who made the most would be the ones who operated the most efficiently.

Retail food isn't like manufacturing for export. The sales stay here. If everyone had lots of full-time jobs with decent pay, it would affect the rest of industry too. Buck up with decent working conditions or you become unionized.

In reality, there is no real competition in the retail food industry. The only competition is the race to pocket the most, and that usually translates into abuse of working people.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 11:31am

Today's news:


Grocery union to appeal picket line injunction
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Sunday, April 7, 2002
REGINA - The union that represents some 2,000 striking workers at Westfair Foods stores in Saskatchewan has launched an appeal to a court injunction that set rules of conduct on the picket lines.

That union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, filed formal notice with the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal on Friday, seeking leave to appeal a decision made by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ellen Gunn on March 29.
Greg Eyre, a union representative, said he expects the matter will be heard in Regina on Wednesday.

That injunction, requested by Westfair Foods, prohibited workers at two Real Canadian Superstore outlets in Regina and one in Yorkton from trespassing on Westfair property, from obstructing entrances to the stores or from harassing or intimidating people trying to enter the premises.

Eyre said the injunction has not, as a practical matter, been a problem for the striking workers who have continued to picket the stores.

But Eyre said the union believes the injunction was unnecessary and Gunn was legally incorrect in granting it.

Some 2,000 workers at 14 Westfair Stores in Saskatchewan have been on strike for 11 days and Eyre said there is no sign of a settlement.
The company has been urging customers to cross picket lines to shop at the stores and has placed advertisements for new workers to replace those on strike.

The injunction granted by Gunn only applied to the two stores in Regina and the one in Yorkton, where there were alleged incidents of misconduct on the picket lines on the first day of the strike.

Key issues in the dispute relate to wages and the union's desire for more full-time jobs instead of part-time work. The union also seeks contract language that will give workers more "dignity and respect" on the job.

I have to say, the way to get dignity and respect on the job is to have a strong union. Abused and disrespected employees are a symptom of representation by a weak union with weak leaders. Language in the contract ain't nothin' without a union that can back it up with strong action. If the employer doesn't respect its employees, it's because it doesn't respect their union or its leaders.

Perhaps they've been to the CLC gym for a workout of late. These seem to be never-before seen muscles that are now being flexed.

See what happens when the MFD kicks sand in their faces.

That being said, I still think it's odd to send one or two parts of the body to the gym for a workout when the whole body is pretty flabby and withered.

Is Alberta going to the gym too, or are they just going to sit on the sidelines and watch Saskatchewan do its workout.

Oh, yes, and let's not forget old Mike. His lips are getting a great workout. There's nothing but strong, muscular, testosterone-packed words spillin' off his lip of late. When's he going to start working on the other muscle groups?

Maybe it's time Tom and Mike stopped talking and started doing.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 11:46am



Tom and Mike


  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 5:38pm

I of course hope that the UFCW is successful in fighting this injunction but I couldn't help but wonder about the irony of their fighting injunctions from employers on the one hand and asking for injunctions against their members who just want to express themselves (like Bill Gammert, Sharyn Sigurdur, Steve Guiliano, the MFD web site, the list goes on) on the other hand.

He who lives by the injunction, dies by the injunction, I guess.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 6:01pm

What has me wondering even more is why the UFCW hasn't shut down Westfair's distribution centers in Saskatchewan?

The Saskatchewan Supreme Court secondary picketing decision should be tested to its limit. It should be Westfair asking for a definition of whether the UFCW can shut down distribution.

On another note, I see Mikey said,


"In my communications with Westfair today, a high ranking management official confirmed that Ryzebol is not authorized to negotiate on Westfair's behalf. He's the only guy in Canada that I know who gets paid for doing nothing but shooting his mouth off and saying stupid things."

Even though I'm sure the Mikester is close to others more qualified for that type of paycheque, we'll pass on reminding him who they are.

However, it's interesting that Mikey is communicating with a high-ranking management official. Why is he "communicating"? Is communicating the same as bargaining? Is Mikey calling the shots now? Is Mikey in control of the strike and bargaining. Has Mikey taken control from the Local 1400 minions? Is Mikey dealing with Loblaw's Roy Conliffe or Westfair's Bruce Kent? I'm sure he's not dealing with Dave Ryzebol because Dave is hurt that Mike would say such mean and nasty personal things about him.

It's when the top dogs start sniffin' each other's behinds that you have to start worrying. The best deals are done at local level.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 6:38pm

I think they're just yanking the Mikester's chain. You know, playing "good cop/bad cop".

If the Mikester has the ability to shut down the distribution centers, that would be great leverage for the Power Source indeed. My guess is that's what the company is trying hard to avoid (the good cop/bad cop routine may be one way of doing that.

Hopefully, Mikester will figure it out. Disrupting the supply chain is a great source of leverage. CAW knows it. Very few other mainstream unions seem to have twigged to it though.

Geez, do we have to tell these guys everything weiser?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 7:39pm

Just in case Mikey isn't up to date on his ability to shut down Westfair's "heart" in Saskatchewan, he might want to read what OPSEU has to say. They have a link to the decision at the bottom of the page.

C'mon Mike, send a few dozen pickets over to Westfair's distribution centre.

  • posted by <Just in Time>
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 7:47pm

It's over:

April 7, 2:30 p.m. All Superstore and Wholesale Club members: As reported in the National Update circulated on Friday, UFCW Canada National Director Michael Fraser has been having conversations with senior Company officials in Toronto in an attempt to find a resolve to the strike. As a result of these discussions and the members hard work and support on the picket lines, the Company has made a new offer to settle the strike. The offer has been presented to the Bargaining Committee and they have decided to bring this offer to the membership for a vote on Monday and Tuesday, April 8th and 9th, 2002.

Please make every effort to attend the ratification meeting in your area as listed below. All details of the company offer will be discussed at these meetings only, then a vote will be held at the end of the meeting.

Whew! That strike pay is expensive to pay out, wouldn't want it to drag out too long.

Don't give any details, SSSSSSHHHHHHHH,it's a big secret. Rush the vote, "yes folks, this is as good as it gets, better take it."

Anyone notice the Canadian economy created 88,000 new jobs in March? That's a record level. What better time to rush into a new agreement, just when the labour market is tightening! Brain up!

Tune in nine years from now for another great episode. This episode was brought to you by the fine folks with their hand in your pocket. Thanks for nothing.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 7:57pm

They don't have to accept it just 'cause Mikey says so.

  • posted by Troll
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 8:11pm

shades of the Local 1977 strike at Zehrs. The members get uppity and reject the "partner's" offer and strike to get something better. The Partner let's them cool their heals and then tosses another offer that's accepted.

Let's see what's happening at Local 1400.

No one gets a copy. The offer is read or put on an overhead. Members get 10 seconds to make up their minds on accepting a piece of crap or staying on strike for the rest of their lives.

Let me tell you. I think that secondary picketing will produce an agreement that the Superstore employees could only dream of.

As an aside, I think it's repugnant that Mike Fraser did the deal in Toronto without the bargaining committee being present.

This is another example of so-called bargaining committees being little more than window dressing.

Buzz Hargrove would have gone to Saskatchewan and sat down with the bargaining committee to face down the employer. If the employer wanted to call in their people with authority from Toronto, Buzz would have met them too, but in Saskatchewan and with the bargaining committee.

Shame on you Mike. That shows no respect whatsoever for the bargaining committee, and that's one of the main reasons for the strike was to get a bit of respect.

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Sun, Apr 7, 2002 11:56pm


All details of the company offer will be discussed at these meetings only, then a vote will be held at the end of the meeting.

This...this is what I absolutely HATE about the UFCW. What a crock. It's a high pressure sales pitch only it's not a time share your getting it's a way of life.

You wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive would you?
How about a house? would you buy it without seeing the inside first?

These are the two biggest purchaces most of us make in our lives and non of us decided to make these commitments without sleeping on it. No way you can take in all the information and it's impact on your life in the workplace without thinking it over, talking about it and weighing about your options.

If they demand you vote at the end of the meeting...VOTE NO!!!! Trust me you'll regret it if you don't because if you can't see the proposal prior to the meetings and you can't sleep on it before you vote there is something they don't want you to know.

  • posted by weiser
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 6:51am

I agree, why the heck is Mike Fraser sitting down in Toronto and bargaining without the Bargaining Committee present for everything that's said?

What tradeoffs were made in those meetings is anybodies guess. Meetings like that are where things like "partnering agreements" are made.

The whole notion of keep the deal secret until the meeting is nothing more than ripping off the members for their right to think about what the company's offer really means.

This is classic UFCW. Just like this is classic.

And just like this secret deal was Classic. (It's the one where they signed a secret four-year agreement that turned the original one in to an eight-year agreement without the members knowing about it.)

This is great too: Provigo Partnering Agreement

  • posted by siggy
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 6:55am

An open letter to Biz-Union Machineheads:

It has been my experience that you no longer act in my best interest. Therefore, from this day forward I will no longer support any action brought to me and recommended by you until I have ample time to examine it's content, discover its impact on my life and discuss it fully with my peers.

I will no longer trust that you understand what is best for me in my workplace. Until I have your recommendations on paper, in my hand, until I have time to fully examine and question it, I will vote NO!

  • posted by <Walking the walk>
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 8:31am

I don't know what you guys are talking about. Yesterday bargaining committee members, picket captains, and reps were on the line giving us the details of the new offer.
Lets give the membership some credit for intelligence. I know they can seperate the wheat from the chaf and are capable of making their own decision for example the Extra foods membership decided to accept an offer that the leadership asked them to reject. It's called democracy.

  • posted by <Just in Time>
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 9:07am

What a great way to disseminate the details of this great new offer. Maybe they should try telepathy and shouting out windows.

Is that how democracy works?

"Today in the news, PM Jean Chretien called for an election. The vote will be held tommorrow. The issues will be discussed at the polling station"

2000 voting members, 1 days notice, I'm sure everyone will be involved and will be making an informed decision.


  • posted by <rebelwithoutapause>
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 9:43am

Why not post the offer on the web. That's what Local 789 did with their settlement offer.

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 10:25am

Thanks J.I.T. your post made me laugh and got me off to a good start today.

Nobody is questioning the intelligence of the members, I know for a fact you need some time to fully understand the agreement. If people want to vote right after the meeting then let them, but if people want a couple of days to think about it they should be able to. This is their lives not the unions. They are the ones who have to live with the deal.

In '97 Sundin got to the section 80 stuff, glossed over it and said he'd get back to it. He never did and when people went to the mic to complain about the deal and voice their disapproval they turned the mics off and told people to vote. Much of what was in the section 80 part of that deal is what many members hate about our contract out here. So save your bullshit about talking about the deal on the picket line.

I'm telling you point blank and in no uncertain terms...if you are rushed to sign this deal there is something in that deal that's not in "your" best interests. I don't really care if you believe me or not, I don't have live with it you do.

  • posted by Troll
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 11:04am

Hey "Walking the Walk" it's how you recommend rejection that counts. When someone recommends rejection stooped over with trembling hands and his knees shaking, don't count on the group following the recommendation. A dynamic forceful, fearless recommendation has better results.

Giving people a few minutes to make up their mind has nothing to do with democracy. Just as doing a deal without the bargaining committee present isn't democracy. Having a meaningful say in their affairs is democracy. Allowing people reasonable access to the facts and having a reasonable amount of time to cogitate and discuss the deal has a lot to do with democracy. It's called debate.

  • posted by <New Green>
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 1:03pm

To all concerned,

Hiya. Great to read all your comments. I'm afraid that I don't yet have the details of the new agreement for you, but after tomorrow night I will.

I've heard two conflicting rumours: one sez we got more money and a better deal / another sez that we got the same 'bad' deal that EXTRA FOODS voted for.

Oh well. I'm not sure if our picket lines could have lasted for much longer the monetary and psychological factors seemed to be too overwhelming for most folks.

It's too bad. I woulda liked to have 'beaten' our bad employer, but I guess not having to shave for 11 days sure was a treat in-of-itself.

Cheers, NG.

  • posted by remote viewer
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 4:58pm

We're all ears NG. Let us know about the offer and how it differs from the one that was accepted by the Extra Foods workers. I am skeptical that the company would be prepared to offer more than the people at Extra Foods got. On the other had, if the offer is significantly better, it goes to show you what even a relatively short strike and accomplish.

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Mon, Apr 8, 2002 11:11pm

It's great to see you involved and on the forum New Green. Welcome. [hey do have a sister named Dawn Green?] get it...sister Dawn


  • posted by siggy
  • Wed, Apr 10, 2002 7:21pm

Over at UFCW 1400 it says the Westfair employees voted in favour of accepting the company offer and the strike is over.

Can anyone tell us what was in the deal?

  • posted by Troll
  • Mon, Apr 15, 2002 6:51pm

Well in true machine troll fashion, "walking the walk" ran off in embarassment. He couldn't answer the questions 'cause they was too 'barassing.

Does anyone know if Mike Fraser has pushed Tom Hesse aside to do the Alberta bargaining, or is Alberta just supposed to swallow the sick Saskatchewan deal?

It's surprising that in the Alberta papers, Tom Hesse does all the talking, and in Saskatchewan Greg Air chats up anyone who will listen, but you never hear anything from the big buck CEOs, for Locals 401 and 1400. What do these CEOs do for their money anyway?

  • posted by siggy
  • Wed, Apr 17, 2002 8:57pm


Saskatchewan Minimum Wage Increases

The Saskatchewan government of Premier Lorne Calvert has increased the provincial minimum wage by 35 cents an hour May 1 and another 30 cents on November 1, bringing the rate to $6.65 per hour.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour says it's welcome news for the province's lowest paid workers. The SFL says the increases not only benefit workers at the low end of the wage scale, but also benefits the provincial economy, because minimum wage earners primarily spend their money close to home.

But the SFL is also suggesting that a mechanism be put in place to provide more regular adjustments in the minimum wage, such as tying it to the Consumer Price Index. The SFL said in a news release that such a plan would permit low income workers to at least keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

If they tie minimum wage to the CP index, how long will it take minimum wage to surpass the union/retail agreements in Saskatchewan?

They say it will help low income workers. This is a boon to union members as well, help them keep up with the cost 'o' living. Thanks SFL.

  • posted by Richard
  • Thu, Apr 18, 2002 7:07am

Isn't that amazing! Bottom-tier Superstore employees with their new, improved CA now make a whole 35 cents per hour over the provincial minimum wage. Now that's much better than Wal-Mart, Isn't it?

Wait, if a bottom rater works 16 hours a week, she makes $5.60 more than an equivalent Wal-Marter. Hold it; you say that Wal-Mart employees may get more hours tha Superstore?

Ok, I may have made a mistake. I read that Walking the Walk calls people liars who make mistakes.

Well, just for argument sake, let's pretend that Wal-Mart employees work the same low hours as Superstore employees. Let's say that the Superstore employees get a special deal on dues and only have to pay $5 a week.

Holy cat fish! The unionized Superstore UFCW member gets a whopping 60 cents a week more than one of those poor abused non-union Wal-Mart employees.

And from what I've read, the Wal-Mart employees don't have the privledge of having a Union rep stroll the store and leave on a Friday afternoon.

When you look at how low the UFCW has allowed the Loblaws contracts to sink and when you look at the despicable Swiss Chalet/UFCW CAs, you wonder what the hell the CLC and its affilliates is all about. They sit quietly and pretend that all is well in UFCW land.

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