May 06, 2024
An Open Letter to Loblaw CEO, Per Bank

Standing up for Grocery Workers:
An Open Letter to Loblaw CEO, Per Bank

In your recent letter to our members, you expressed frustration with the public discussion around Canada’s affordability crisis. You addressed the ongoing consumer boycott of Loblaw stores and the safety threat posed by posters promoting a so-called “Steal from Loblaws” Day this coming Mother’s Day.

Citing a series of points, you suggest Loblaw is being unfairly targeted for things outside of the company’s control, and you call on employees to “stand up” for your business.

As a former grocery store worker, your letter evoked some familiar feelings. You say it is unfair to be blamed for something outside your control and to not be given credit for the value you provide. With all due respect, try working in a grocery store.

Our members have been deeply affected by so much change in their stores and in their lives. This includes skyrocketing food prices, the lack of protection in their workplaces, and a host of other issues we push your company to deal with every day.

Asking grocery store workers to stand with you would land far better if they knew you stood with them.

As President of UFCW Local 247, a local union representing thousands of Loblaw employees in BC, it’s part of my job to respond to you and point out some things that are firmly in your control to do:

  1. Increase the wages of your employees. Grocery store workers are some of your most loyal customers, but many are unable to afford to shop where they work. In recent days, instead of addressing affordability by increasing employee wages, Loblaw has reported further profits and chosen to extend dividends to shareholders. Our union will agree to open any Collective Agreement with your company to address affordability issues by increasing our members’ compensation. We know that, by law, we can’t make you do that during the term of an agreement, but we can mutually agree. Let us know.
  2. Maintain or increase our members’ hours. Wages mean less when you don’t get hours. Our members are already doing more with less. Impose a moratorium on cuts to hours in all stores during any boycott. If our members have more hours to do their jobs, they might have more time to “stand up” for things.
  3. Double the value of the employee discount program. Many of your employees rely on this discount program, and skyrocketing food inflation has completely absorbed its value. This is an employer policy that you can change.
  4. Prioritize employee safety now. As a union, we have been calling on Loblaw and other retailers to implement effective and meaningful protections for our members when faced with customer violence and abuse in their workplaces.

Standing up for our members means taking immediate and concrete action on this issue. Meet with us to work on a protocol on employee safety that extends beyond legislated minimum requirements.

These actions are not only possible and in your control; they are reasonable and necessary.

Grocery store workers don’t want to have to worry about being assaulted or filmed by an abusive customer while trying to do their jobs. They shouldn’t have to worry about their hours being cut so badly that they can’t pay rent or buy groceries for their families. Prices going up at a lesser rate (i.e. CPI) is no consolation when workers and consumers know prices need to go down.

Our members are on the frontlines of maintaining relationships with customers. Nok er nok, as you say – enough is enough. We need solutions, not excuses, and there are things you can and must do to stand up for Loblaw employees.


Dan Goodman
UFCW Local 247 President