Steelworkers vote for strike against Westfair Foods

    WINNIPEG, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers' (USW) Local 9469 members
are furious that Westfair Foods Ltd., a regional division of Loblaws Companies
Ltd., has tabled a contract demand to invoke a three-tier wage system, which
would cap wages and benefits of its lowest-paid employees.
    Workers have voted 94 per cent in favour of taking strike action to force
the employer to remove this concession, while backing their union's demands
for a fair and equitable collective agreement.
    Some 330 USW members employed full- and part-time at the Westfair
distribution warehouse and a retail outlet in the city have had enough of the
company's continuing efforts to pay "lousy wages and benefits", says USW Staff
Representative Lee Edwards.
    Since the collective agreement expired in June 2007, 11 negotiating
sessions have not brought the two sides closer.
    "Our members expect at least wage and benefit parity with Westfair
workers in Saskatoon," said Edwards. "And people who put in full-time hours
deserve full-time wages and benefits."
    Edwards said members struck for 10 months in 1996-1997 to successfully
back their demands and that job action may once again become necessary.
    "It is becoming increasingly clear that Westfair, owned by one of
Canada's largest retailers, is out to pick the pockets of its workforce," says
Edwards, who said Winnipeg has now become a much less affordable major city to
    According to the Conference Board of Canada, this year Winnipeg should be
the third fastest growing economy in Canada, only behind Calgary and Edmonton.

    The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing more than 280,000
men and women working in every sector of Canada's economy.

For further information:

For further information: Lee Edwards, (204) 940-3050

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