UFCW Tries to Go “High End” at Holt Renfrew

The United Food and Commerical Workers Union (UFCW) is moving from chasing discount retailers like Walmart into the more rarefied world of high end retailers. The Globe and Mail reported today that the UFCW is driving a campaign at the Holt Renfrew in Yorkdale Shopping Center in Ontario. The Globe explains:

The company is facing a union drive at one of it best-performing stores – an effort that could set a precedent at other locations and add further pressure to the company as it braces for the onslaught of new competition.

Interestingly, the Holt’s employees aren’t paid the same near-minimum wage as the UFCW’s regular targets:

Sales staff at high-end retailers tend to count heavily on commissions for a good part of their pay. Staff at the Holt’s store in Yorkdale earn commissions of between 2.5 per cent and 10 per cent of their sales, as well as base salaries “well above” minimum wage,” according to Alix Box, senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

A vote will be held among 174 eligible employees tomorrow. What do you think? Is the UFCW over-extending themselves? Would it be beneficial for these high-paid (relatively) commission-based employees to be unionized?


  1. I think that whom ever started this process does not understand what they are asking for. As the union negotiates new wage contract they will be forced to compare to other retailer. Holt has the highest pay scale for clothing retailers. In the long run it will reduce wages and efficiency throughout Holt’s. I do not see the need for a union. I think at one time Holt’s was named one of the top employers in Canada. What are the employees thinking. The world is going away from unions, why would they even consider this.

  2. Not sure that “chasing” is the right word to describe what the union has been doing.

    As the Globe story points out, Holt’s is owned by the Galen Weston family; the UFCW is the same union that organized Weston’s Loblaw workers. So I wonder if there isn’t a larger strategy at work here.

    And it would seem to me that any and all of the 147 workers at Holt’s should be capable of judging the merits and demerits to them of certification. Their call. Hard to see how anyone who hasn’t worked there or who doesn’t have inside information could judge the situation as well.

  3. As a former HR employee I have to say that’ s about time.The level of abuse in that Company by managment is outrageous . Employees cannot take it anymore and they just don’ t listen. Most of the employees don’t even have a chance to reach over 2.5% commission due to the high trash hold which is 150.000 over 3 month period and for all of you information the wages are baring the minimum wage for most of them . The sales per hour incentive (0.5%) was eliminating recently causing a lot of stress among them. And the trash hold is raising about 10% every season, bringing the loss up to 20% per year . And then comes Mrs Box saying that HR employees are the best payed in the market. It’s just not true. People are not making enough money to pay their basic expenses and every time an employee mention it to
    Management they simply told that ” the doors are not locked, of you are not happy just leave”, so they can hire what they call sales consultant , meaning commission only no experience or education people . Welcome to the Union.

  4. You’re gold to them only if you are a million dollar seller. Otherwise you are just a “worker” with a number on the forehead. Union is considered but not necessarily wanted by all. Basically left no choice when most average or below average sales associated are being treated poorly by bad attitude managers. Out of the whole entire company, there are only a handful that are treated with respect. And only the handful of employees that make the million make $$$. Everyone may look at Holt Renfrew as just a retailer. The employees there work their butts off to make that company all those increases in profit every year! think about how Holt Renfrew is so successful. It’s called greed has got the best of them. KARMA

  5. I had to deal with the UFCW in the past at a Better Beef LTD, now Cargill and from my experience these guys are a joke and false!