Union Targets Couche-Tard

Published in CSP Daily News

Quebec's second-largest organized labor group launching "vast unionization campaign"

LAVAL, Quebec -- Quebec's second-largest organized labor group is vowing to launch a massive unionization attempt of convenience stores in the province in a move targeted at Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., reported The Edmondton Journal. The Confederation des Syndicats Nationaux said that it has formed a first union at a Couche-Tardstore in Montreal and that it would push for others.

"We're launching a vast unionization campaign into this type of retailing," the union said in a press release cited by the newspaper.

The group is Quebec's second-largest trade [image-nocss] union federation by membership, representing 300,000 workers in 1,700 separate unions. Its members work in health and social services, construction, teaching and forestry among other disciplines.

Couche-Tard is a potentially lucrative tap for organized labor, the paper speculated. Organized labor has seen revenues from union dues in Canada diminish amid a decline in manufacturing jobs and other industries.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard has a network comprised of approximately 5,900 convenience stores, more than 4,140 of which include motor fuel dispensing, located in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States covering 42 states and the District of Columbia (primarily under the Circle K banner), and three in Canada covering all 10 provinces (primarily under the Mac's banner). More than 53,000 people are employed throughout Couche-Tard's retail convenience network and service centers.

The retailer, which has 674 corporate stores and 304 affiliated stores in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, declined to comment to the Journal.

Quebec has the country's highest unionization rate, according to the report. As of 2009, 39.8% of workers in the province belonged to a union, just ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador at 39% and Manitoba at 37%.

Couche-Tard has in the past shut down one of its stores in Saint-Mathieu-de-Beloeil that was undergoing unionization, said the report, citing Quebec business website Argent. The company maintained the outlet was not profitable, Argent said. It has since reopened it.

Laval, Quebec-based Couche-Tard has a network comprised of approximately 5,900 convenience stores, more than 4,140 of which include motor fuel dispensing, located in 11 large geographic markets, including eight in the United States covering 42 states and the District of Columbia (primarily under the Circle K banner), and three in Canada covering all 10 provinces (primarily under the Mac's banner). More than 53,000 people are employed throughout Couche-Tard's retail convenience network and service centers.