thumb-2020-06-040 This article is more than 10 months old
News Brief

Frontline Grocery Workers Vote to Strike After Safeway Cancels ‘Hero Pay’ and Pays Out Shareholders

Union says cancelling "Hero Pay" motivated workers to turn out in large numbers for strike vote

Grocery store workers at Safeway locations in Alberta have voted to strike after the company cancelled “Hero Pay” and gave a big payout to shareholders.

According to CBC News, 79% of members of UFCW Local 401, which represents workers at Alberta Safeway locations, voted for strike action last week.

Empire Co. Ltd, which operates the Safeway and Sobeys grocery chains, has seen soaring profits throughout the pandemic.

“Strong mandate.” Despite members authorizing the union to go on strike, UFCW Local 401 says it’s not immediately heading to the picket lines, but will instead use the “strong mandate to call for strike action” to ask the company to “get back to the bargaining table as soon as possible to negotiate a better deal.”

The union argues management is trying to take away benefits and outsource jobs to third-party vendors.

Union says cancelling “Hero Pay” only motivated workers: The union says it saw “one of the highest retail voter turnouts” in years, something the union attributes to Sobey’s deciding to cancel ‘Hero Pay’ and give payouts to shareholders following record profits during the pandemic.

“It is a testament not only to employee and public distaste for the kind of greed we’ve seen from major Canadian grocers but also to our union’s massive member engagement and transparency initiatives,” said lead union negotiator and UFCW Local 401 Executive Director, Chris O’Halloran in a statement.

“One week they’re heroes; the next week they’re zeroes,” UFCW spokesperson Michael Hughes said.

Safeway is not alone. After bringing in ‘Hero Pay’ and offering “nice words” about the value of frontline workers, many Canadian companies are trying to go back to the old normal even as the pandemic continues to threaten workers.

Sobey’s cancelled the pay increase earlier this month alongside other major grocery retailers including Loblaws, Metro, Save-On-Foods and Walmart — it is expected that executives will be called to testify before a parliamentary committee later this summer about the pay cuts.

[CBC News]


Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.

Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.


Support Our Journalism
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2021-05-07 News

Police Departments Across Ontario Are Issuing Statements Rejecting Use of Doug Ford’s Controversial New Police Powers

Related Stories

News Brief

Montréal’s Biggest COVID-19 Vaccination Site Shut Down Thanks to Online Fringe Groups, QAnon Followers and Maxime Bernier

View the post
News Brief

Doug Ford Gives Ontario Police New Powers to Arbitrarily Stop and Question Anyone Who Leaves Their Home

View the post
News Brief

Conservative Party Votes Down Resolution Designed to Reassure Everyone They Believe in Science

View the post


Politics & strategy

Tom Parkin

How Federal Leadership Can Help Establish Important Social Programs and Health Reforms

View the post
Power and democracy

Andrea Reimer

Why Powerful People Do Stupid Things

View the post
Work & rights

Liz Walker and Shanice Regis-Wilkins

What Anti-Worker Businesses Don’t Want You To Know About the Value of Unions

View the post