A day after striking Co-op workers were moved away from entrances to a shopping centre off Attridge Drive to help other businesses in the plaza, UFCW 1400 is instructing them to surround the entrances once again.
Union president Norm Neault had instructed picketers to move away from two entrances to the shopping centre shared with the Saskatoon Co-op after a media inquiry from 650 CKOM about the effect it was having on local businesses.
Instead, workers were asked to focus on the two entrances closest to the Attridge Drive Co-op store and gas bar.
However, the picketers moved back Wednesday morning after strike “captains” reported too many vehicles were getting to the open Co-op store through the unblocked entrances.
“It was acting as a pipeline to the store,” Neault told 650 CKOM in an interview. “So we’re exercising our right and striking at those entrances again.”
Eastside Paint and Wallpaper reported to 650 CKOM they lost 25 per cent of their usual Saturday business due to the strike, with many customers choosing to just drive away.
Supplement World, which is located directly next to the Co-op gas bar, wrote on Facebook that they had been “devastated” by lost business.
That store’s owner also reported a customer was told they could “buy shakes elsewhere” by a picketer.
Neault said he could neither confirm or deny the incident, but they are advising union members not to stop people from shopping at stores other than Co-op.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “We give them instructions to tell anyone who pulls up not to shop at the Co-op. We don’t tell them not to shop the other businesses.”
Neault is telling business owners in the plaza to take the issue up with Co-op, their landlord. He said if Co-op would allow them to strike on the company property, rather than on public sidewalks, they’d be able to localize the demonstration to only obstructing the store and gas bar.
PETITION TO REMOVE BOARD NOT CONNECTED TO UNION: PRESIDENT
Neault also addressed a petition being circulated by a former UFCW 1400 vice president calling for the removal of the Saskatoon Co-op board of directors.
Craig Thebaud, framing himself as a concerned Co-op member, has collected over 250 of the necessary 300 signatures to force a membership meeting and a vote on a motion to remove and replace the board.
Saskatoon Co-op CEO Grant Wicks dismissed the possibility of the petition not being connected to a union move, saying it was a “bad faith” tactic on UFCW’s behalf.
“It couldn’t have been farther from that,” he said. “It was nothing we initiated … It has nothing to do with bargaining, those are two separate issues.”
Bargaining dates are set for Nov. 29 and 30 between the two sides, though both have said they’ll return to the table if the other has an offer to put forward.