This week, we learned that grocery chain Metro’s net earnings are up 26 percent to $346.7 million from $275 million last year at this time.
These third quarter earnings are another slap in the face to the 3,700 Metro workers on strike in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Workers walked off the job on July 29, shutting down 27 stores. Unifor Local 414, the union representing these workers has emphasized that the central issues are inadequate wages and lack of benefits for part-time workers.
The workers have already voted down one tentative agreement and seem determined to win better wages and benefits for themselves. Many have been quoted saying they can’t afford to buy groceries from the stores they work in. But if Metro workers win it won’t just help them, but will have a positive effect on workers across the country.
A strike for all of us
Metro Workers are striking back against corporate greed. As Spring has previously reported, “All three major grocery chains, Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro, have seen record profits. At the same time, food prices increased 11% in one year. Throw in fat bonuses for executives, including $13.2 million for just 5 Metro executives in 2022, and it’s no wonder these corporations are being accused of ‘greedflation.'”
These stores were able to stay open and rake in profits during the pandemic thanks to grocery store workers who navigated an unsure and unsafe climate to deliver essential services to people who needed them. Yet the “hero pay” (an extra $2/hour) was cancelled by the major chains after about 2 months.
So while Metro executives and shareholders continue to get richer and richer, workers at Metro and elsewhere find it harder to make ends meet. While they raise prices higher and higher, they make life worse for the people in our communities who do valuable work. It’s essential that we support these workers and help them win.
Amidst skyrocketing rents, a homeless crisis, record use of foodbanks, Metro workers are saying enough is enough and demanding more from their employer.
Not only do we need to support a fightback against the greedy grocery chains, we know a win at the bargaining table helps raise the floor for all workers. Workers at other Metro locations, represented by UFCW, might be inspired to fight for what is owed to them. Teachers might be motivated to strike for better student supports and real action on classroom violence. Unorganized retail and food service workers might be able to win over their coworkers to forming a union in their workplace.
Suddenly, everyone’s got a new percentage to point to with their employer and we have a new example of how when workers fight they win.
So how do we do it?
The 3,700 Metro workers are doing their part. They voted down a tentative agreement and are out on those picket lines. Those of us that see the importance of their victory have to do our part.
If we look at the historic education workers strike in November, 2022, solidarity built in the community helped give the workers confidence to defy legislation and go out on a political strike against the government. Groups like Justice For Workers spearheaded efforts to “paint the province purple.” The call was picked up by community groups, union locals, parents groups and students who postered outside of schools, contacted MPPs, signed up parents for solidarity pledges at drop-off and showed up to protests and picket lines to show education workers that they weren’t fighting alone.
We need to replicate this for the 3,700 striking Metro workers. Follow the Justice For Workers blueprint for solidarity. There you will find resources to visit a picket line, post a solidarity selfie and get started spreading the word to others so we can show up for Metro workers because by striking they are showing up for all of us.
Did you like this article? Help us produce more like it by donating $1, $2, or $5. Donate