Extra Foods ready to reopen in downtown Maple Ridge

Hundreds line up to apply for 40 vacant positions after lingering labour dispute settled

People lined up past the building on Saturday to apply for jobs.

People lined up past the building on Saturday to apply for jobs.

After a three-and-a-half-year labour dispute, the Extra Foods grocery store on Dewdney Trunk Road in Maple Ridge will finally reopen to customers next Wednesday, May 16.

This past weekend, the store held a job fair to fill close to 40 vacant positions, resulting in a line-up of hundreds of applicants stretching across the store’s parking lot.

“I was thrilled to see the number of people interested in joining the Extra Foods team,” said store owner Doug Bell.

With the majority of positions filled, Bell said he is now getting his new employees trained and ready to go for the re-opening next week.

In all, the store will employ close to 90 people, with 50 strikers returning to work at the store.

Staff have been working around the clock to restock the store, a process that takes two to three weeks to complete.

The picket line in front of the store came down April 20 after workers voted 93 per cent in favour of accepting a new six-year contract with Loblaw Companies Limited, the parent company of Extra Foods.

In December 2008, 75 employees at the store went on strike after rejecting a contract offer from Loblaw that would have seen their wages cut nearly in half.

United Food and Commercial Workers union members had been working at the store under an expired contract since 2004, with long-time workers making in the $20-per-hour range, with benefits.

The contract Loblaw had initially offered would have seen  most workers would top out at $11.90 per hour, with no benefits.

Under the new contract, workers at the store will get a small bump in pay, retroactive to 2004.