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Union takes on chipmaker at grocers’ doorsteps

United Food and Commerical Workers asks shoppers not to buy Covered Bridge potato chips during strike

A nearly five-month strike at a potato chip factory in New Brunswick is reaching supermarkets in other provinces.

On Tuesday, labour activists stood outside Costcos across Canada that sell Covered Bridge potato chips (photo at right). They handed leaflets to customers and asked them not to buy the chip brand.

Leaflets were also handed out at two independent grocers: Johnvince Foods in Toronto and at some 20 Farm Boy stores across Ontario.

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The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) called it a “day of action” that’s part of their boycott of Covered Bridge products.

Around 32 unionized workers at the Covered Bridge plant in Waterville, N.B. have been on strike since Jan. 5. The workers joined UFCW two years ago. They have been unable to get a contract because the owners of the plant refuse to negotiate, says the union.

Covered Bridge has employed replacement workers at the plant since the strike began. A spokesperson for the company was not made available to Canadian Grocer.

Union leaflets handed out in front of stores this week featured a cartoon drawing of an unhappy potato chip holding a picket sign. “We’re glad we’re your favourite potato chip,” the leaflet stated, “ but please don't buy us until the strike is over.” It linked to a microsite about the strike.

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This is the latest action against Covered Bridge by the CLC and UFCW.

In January the two groups called for a national boycott of the chipmaker’s products and took out radio ads in the Maritimes against the company.

That same month, leaflets asking customers not to buy the chips were handed out at Sobeys, Costco, Atlantic Superstore, Great Canadian Dollar Store and Dollarama stores in the Atlantic provinces.

A UFCW spokesperson told Canadian Grocer that more protests at stores are in the works.

UFCW has also sent a letter to the American grocery chain Aldi asking it to stop carrying Covered Bridge chips until the strike ends.

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