The union representing Saskatoon Co-op workers is moving some of their picketers after complaints they were turning customers away from other area businesses.
Ken Zurowski, owner of Eastside Paint and Wallpaper, said his business lost 25 per cent of its usual sales on Saturday due to the ongoing strike by Co-op staff.
The workers walked out last week after labour negotiations stalled with the Saskatoon Co-op board. The union, UFCW 1400, has said they won’t accept a board proposal to have a lower payscale for new employees.
Since then they’ve been striking on public sidewalks just off the property of Co-op stores, including the Erindale shopping plaza that hosts several other businesses.
“Customers are having issues (entering the parking lot), and I think some customers are quite frankly driving away,” Zurowski said in an interview Tuesday morning.
The plaza in question is owned by Saskatoon Co-op, with businesses leasing their property. Picketers have been patrolling all four entrances, even those further away from the Co-op food store and gas bar.
“They’re picketing the wrong spot,” Zurowski said.
“They should be picketing at Co-op’s entrances, not the entrance to the mall.”
The business owner said he had called the union four times and left a message complaining about what was happening.
Supplement World, a business located beside the gas bar, said on Facebook they’ve “suffered tremendously” due to the strike.
“Many of our customers have actually been turned away from entering the parking lot of our Ludlow location by people on strike,” the post read.
“One customer who ended up coming in told the striking employees that he was simply going to Supplement World for a shake and was told ‘there are other places to get protein shakes.'”
UFCW 1400 President Norm Neault said he would investigate the issues after an interview request by 650 CKOM.
Hours after the request was made, Zurowski said he received a call from the union and was told the picketers would be moved from the entrances closest to Eastside Paint and Wallpaper.
Separately, Saskatoon police confirmed to 650 CKOM they’ve responded to a number of complaints regarding Saskatoon Co-op workers on strike. Most of the complaints have been traffic-related, with some calling police reporting they’ve been blocked from entering a lot while others are complaining about drivers in front of them stopping and speaking with the picketers.
However, officers are investigating a report of a vehicle being struck by a person on strike. Police said the driver got out of their vehicle and retaliated by striking the picketer.
Labour negotiations are scheduled to resume between the two sides in the Saskatoon Co-op dispute at the end of November.