Co-op Members for Fairness are not a union project or campaign. We are a 100% independent group of Co-op members that came together because we were appalled by Saskatoon Co-op’s treatment of workers during the lengthy strike at that time. The strike was undertaken by workers represented by UFCW 1400 to prevent Co-op’s imposition of a so-called “two-tier wage grid” on its workers, which really means “major clawback to the starting and maximum wages in Co-op’s stores for future workers.”
We, as members, thought that this was a slap in the face not only to Co-op’s lowest-paid workers, but a major violation of the ideals and principles of cooperatives that we expect to see expressed by our cooperative. We believe that “labour relations” at Co-op are a major indicator of whether Co-op’s stated principles are actually being practiced. Furthermore, this matched up with our many concerns about democratic cooperative governance that we feel that FCL (Co-op’s management) is set on slowly abolishing.
We were inspired by the workers and UFCW’s campaign and believed they needed more visible and vocal support from members.
In spite of the fact that Co-op was willing to stonewall its workers’ union and leave people picketing throughout most of a harsh winter, until a majority of workers could not simply afford to be on strike, we continue to press for the end of the two-tier wage grids at Co-op.
We are entirely self-funded out of individual members’ pockets and donations. Many of us engaged in solidarity picketing with Co-op workers during the strike and hope to act in solidarity in other ways with Co-op workers in the future.
We believe that members have common interests with Co-op workers. As workers’ power is weakened at Co-op, it negatively affects the power of members, and vice-versa.
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