July 11, 2020

Winnipeg
21° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Close this

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Tim Hortons staff locked out, replaced over dime hourly raise

Staff at the Tim Hortons at Portage and Main rejected the owner's offer of a 20-cent an hour raise. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Staff at the Tim Hortons at Portage and Main rejected the owner's offer of a 20-cent an hour raise. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/1/2020 (189 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Unionized employees of a downtown Tim Hortons picketed at Portage and Main Friday morning after the franchise owner locked them out over a wage increase roughly equivalent to the price of a Timbit.

"We really aren’t asking for much," said Ben Garus, a baker who started working at the Lombard Avenue location in August.

The 15 workers, who are represented by the Workers United Canada Council, sought a 30-cent per hour increase in the most recent round of collective bargaining. The franchise owner, JP Shearer, offered 20 cents, which would bring the wage to $11.95/hr.

The union rejected the offer and asked to continue negotiating. In response, the owner gave it two weeks' notice before locking the employees out and bringing in new workers, union representative Andy Spence said.

Spence said the franchisee runs six Tim Hortons locations in Winnipeg, but only the shops at Lombard Avenue and Graham Avenue are unionized.

When the offer for a 20-cent an hour raise was made to the unionized employees on Graham, they agreed. But when the Lombard shop held a strike vote in December, 95 per cent of its members agreed to take action.

The union was certified in 2017, and the first collective agreement included a 30-cent raise, boosting hourly wages from $11.15. Employees are now asking Shearer to match it and to move toward a living wage.

Cherry Garcia (centre) holds a sign at a rally of Tim Hortons employees outside of 1 Lombard Place on Friday. Fifteen workers at the restaurant were seeking a 30-cent increase in a recent round of collective bargaining. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Cherry Garcia (centre) holds a sign at a rally of Tim Hortons employees outside of 1 Lombard Place on Friday. Fifteen workers at the restaurant were seeking a 30-cent increase in a recent round of collective bargaining. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

A "living wage" is defined by Living Wage Canada — an advocacy organization — as something separate from a minimum wage, which is the lower limit all employees must receive by law. Minimum wage hardly keeps pace with the rising costs of living, advocates say, leaving employees to make difficult spending decisions and unable to improve their financial situations.

The living wage is one based on what earners need to fully address the costs of living in a specific community.

In its 2017 report for Manitoba, Living Wage Canada calculated the amount needed for a family of four, with two parents working full-time, to cover those costs in Winnipeg was $14.54/hr.

Manitoba's consumer price index — which measures the fluctuation in the average cost of a set basket of goods and services — has steadily risen since the last Tim Hortons union wage agreement. In October 2017, the CPI was 131.4, but in 2019, it was 138, representing a five per cent jump. (A raise to $12.05 from $11.75 would amount to an increase of just over 2.5 per cent over the same approximate period.)

Cherry Garcia, 36, who has worked at the Lombard location for seven years, said the extra 10 cents/hr would go a long way in helping her support her daughter. "It will add up," she said.

Since unionizing, the Lombard staff have gained some rights, including three days of paid bereavement leave and an increase in allowance for safety footwear. But the wage increase would have the most direct benefit on employees at the busy downtown shop, Spence said.

"It’s not a big ask," he said. "These are low-wage workers who should be treated with some respect. Some of them have been working here for nearly a decade, and they deserve better treatment."

Inside the underground plaza, the restaurant's new employees tended to the morning coffee-break rush, while the manager refused comment.

The franchise owner didn't respond to an interview request.

ben.waldman@freepress.mb.ca

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman
Reporter

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.

History

Updated on Friday, January 3, 2020 at 2:53 PM CST: Updated.

3:01 PM: tweaked headline

The Free Press will close this commenting platform at noon on July 14.

We want to thank those who have shared their views over the years as part of this reader engagement initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Free Press will announce new opportunities for readers to share their thoughts and to engage with our staff and each other.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us