The union representing Safeway workers in Manitoba is pushing for a strike mandate, but that doesn't mean there will be a strike.
UFCW Local 832 president Jeff Traeger says there are 13 more bargaining dates set for March, and it's the union's intention to work hard to reach an agreement.
"At this point we needed to send a message to the company that our members are not interested in having their compensation cut as drastically as the company has proposed," says Traeger.
Sobeys' (which owns Safeway) director of external communications Jacquelin Weatherbee similarly says the company is committed to negotiating a "good deal" -- one she says will keep stores open and create stable jobs, as well as allow the company to remain competitive in the marketplace and address high operational costs.
Traeger says the concessions tabled by Sobeys would have a major impact on the 2,200 workers his union represents.
Talks broke down yesterday, after three days of negotiating. Traeger accuses Sobey's of bullying tactics at the bargaining table.
"After the third day of bargaining, the company made it clear that this position was not changeable and if they didn't achieve the cost savings (they were looking for) through collective bargaining, they would be closing stores in Manitoba. So we decided that there was no point in continuing to bargain," says Traeger.
Weatherbee did not confirm whether Safeway stores in Manitoba could close, saying they still have to go through negotiations.
Discussions will reconvene March 5th and are scheduled to go on daily until March 17th, when the workers' contract expires.
Traeger says the union is hoping a strike mandate will encourage Sobeys to have what he calls "reasonable discussions about reaching an agreement."