Strike averted at Cornwall Food Basics

Shoppers walk out of the Food Basics on Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. The store and the union representing employees have reached a tentative agreement, averting a pre-Thanksgiving strike. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – The union representing workers at Food Basics has reached a tentative agreement with the grocery store’s parent company, averting a possible pre-Thanksgiving strike.

Unifor Local 414, which represents 20 stores including the one on Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall, reached a tentative deal Tuesday with Metro Ontario Inc., the parent company of Food Basics. It came after two days of negotiations and the day before the strike deadline (12:01 a.m. Sept. 29).

Unifor Local President Gord Currie says they were able to protect the “highest paid full-time jobs” and even add full-time positions at stores.

Prior to the deal, the union said both sides were “far apart on critical issues” like wages, benefits, sick leave and full-time job creation. There had been worry about the elimination of department managers.

In a statement to Cornwall Newswatch, Metro spokeswoman Stephanie Bonk says they are “pleased” to reach the tentative agreement with Unifor, which “is fair and equitable for our customers and our employees.”

Workers had been without a contract since the end of October last year and bargaining had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Unifor National spokeswoman Kathleen O’Keefe says a full-time clerk hired before 2009 would max out at $17.90 an hour while someone hired after November 2009 would end up at a maximum of $16.40.

Details of the collective agreement, which covers 1,400 staff at the 20 stores, have not been disclosed as it still needs to be ratified by the union during membership votes on Sunday (Oct. 3) and next Thursday (Oct. 7).

The Food Basics store on Second Street East in Cornwall is not affected by this collective bargaining.

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