Elaine Pigeau stands in solidarity with the striking Shoppers Drug Mart workers.

Shoppers Drug Mart strike is unusual, says expert

An update on the continuing Shoppers Drug Mart strike

“Get back to the table and talk.”

This was the message from a member of the British Columbia Nurses’ Union (BCNU) regional executive who joined the picket line at Shoppers Drug Mart to mark their 80th day of job action on July 19.

Elaine Pigeau, a lobby coordinator with the BCNU, wanted to show her support for the striking workers of Shoppers Drug Mart.

The Lakelse Shoppers Drug Mart has been on strike since May 1. Workers are asking for wage increases, as well as benefits and contract language improvements.

“Eighty days is a long time,” said Pigeau, donning a yellow placard. “These are members of our community. It’s pretty hard to pay bills and put food on the table on strike pay.”

The strike is long by B.C. standards, said Labour Relations Board representative Guy Pocklington.

“The vast majority of collective agreement bargainings are done with no strike or lockout at all,” he said. “[This strike is] certainly much longer than strikes in B.C. usually last. They typically last a couple of weeks.”

The latest round of talks between associate owner Barb Rea and the union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518, held earlier this month, under the supervision of mediator Grant McArthur, ended with the employee membership rejecting the owner’s offer by a vote of 85 per cent.

The union has so far not released how many of its members took part in the vote which resulted in the rejection.

Following the vote, union tactics escalated, with a slew of anti-Shoppers radio ads and union leaders visiting Terrace to meet with members and  jumpstart a leafletting campaign at the Park Ave. Shoppers Drug Mart, which Rea also owns and is not unionized.

A series of letters was also exchanged between Rea and UFCW counsel Chris Buchanan, with Rea saying the union mislead her during negotiations and the union firing back saying she should take her complaint to the labour board. Rea backed down from her accusations, saying in a letter she believed her concerns could be worked out at the bargaining table. To which the union responded by saying they were ready to return to the table immediately.

The way the strike has been playing out here in Terrace, specifically the letter writing campaigns, is unusual, said Mark Leier, chair of the history department at Simon Fraser University. Leier is considered an expert on labour movements in B.C.

“It doesn’t seem like the best technique if you’re serious about bargaining,” he said.

“Lots of industry employers like to stall everything as long as possible,” he said. “In the case of a large corporation, they might be getting support from the mother company.”

It is unclear what role Shoppers Drug Mart’s corporate division is playing in the strike, if any.

Calls to the corporate office were not returned.

Just Posted

Volunteers step up to the grill to help the Ksan Society

A group of volunteers from the Northwest Community College are flipping burgers, walking to help after this year’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser was cancelled.

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

UPDATE: Air quality advisory ended for Terrace

People with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.

Mills Memorial Hospital financing formula released

Regional taxpayers to pay $113.7 million for new facility.

Greyhound cleared to end routes in northern B.C., Vancouver Island

Company says nine routes have dropped 30% in ridership in last five years

Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

The St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program launches a pilot project at the 2018 Kamloops B.C. Winter Games

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Czechmate: Canada wins men’s Olympic hockey bronze

Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett scores twice as Canada beats Czech Republic 6-4

Canucks fold 5-3 in first ever trip to Vegas

Daniel Sedin had two points as Canucks fall to the Golden Knights Friday night

That’s a wrap: B.C. Games results after Day 1

Vancouver-Coastal Zone 5 is in the lead for medals Friday at the Kamloops 2018 B.C. Winter Games

Sticking the landing at the B.C. Games

Gymnasts talk competition, B.C. Winter Games, and teamwork in Kamloops

$153M in federal cash to fund child care, education training in B.C.

Bilateral agreement will create 1,370 new infant and toddler spaces

A B.C. woman talks her life in the sex trade

A view into the life from one Kelowna prostitute and the issues it can cause for women

Twitter feed prays for — instead of preying on — B.C. MLAs

Non-partisan Christian group wants to support politicians through personalized prayer

Most Read