Community health workers ratify contract

Community health workers represented by UFCW 1518 voted in favour of a tentative agreement reached with health employers.

UFCW 1518 represents about 2,000 of the 16,000 home support workers who ratified the three-year contract, which takes effect April 1, 2019.

The new collective agreement brings in yearly wage increases of two percent in each of the next three years in addition to enhanced benefits, provisions for improved scheduling and steps to address staff retention.

“Community health workers deliver critical services to some of the most vulnerable people living in British Columbia,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak.  “This agreement is a step forward for our members and the communities they serve.”

Today’s vote announcement comes after a tentative agreement was reached in mid-June, the result of weeks of negotiations between the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), a coordinated multi-union group, and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC).

Highlights of the agreement include: wage increases of six per cent over three years for all workers; improvement of employment security provisions; creation of task force to investigate guaranteed hours and other issues, and additional funding for the Enhanced Disability Management Program.

“I want to thank our bargaining committee for their dedication and contribution to this round of negotiations. They had a complex and important task and they represented our members well,” said Secretary-Treasurer Novak.

What’s up with Section 106? An FAQ for Safeway members

The labour minister has invoked Section 106 of the BC Labour Relations Code less than a handful of times in the last 30 years. It is thus the extraordinary labour dispute that commands the appointment of a Special Officer under the Code. We have compiled an FAQ for members who want to inform themselves about the Section 106 proceedings between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys and how this process relates to negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement.

Q. What has happened so far?

A. Last March, President Ivan Limpright appealed to the Minster of Labour, Harry Bains, for assistance after negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys stalled. The company demanded only concessions while the union stood firm in attempting to negotiate a fair collective agreement for all members.

Minister Bains appointed Vince Ready, a well known mediator and arbitrator, as Special Officer under Section 106 of the BC Labour Relations Code. In the event of a dispute relating to the collective agreement, Section 106 allows the labour minister to appoint a Special officer in order to “preserve industrial peace.”

In May, Special Officer Ready met separately with the union bargaining committee and the company. After assessing the parties as being very far apart in their positions (with the company demanding serious concessions and the union refusing to concede) he requested they provide written submissions outlining the major outstanding issues. For the union, this includes its right of first refusal grievance related to the 10 Safeway store closures, the reopener of the collective agreement and Sobeys’ desire for a new banner (FreshCo).


Q: Is the Section 106 process the same as Final Offer Selection?

A: No. The Section 106 proceedings are entirely different, governed by a specific process set out under the BC Labour Relations Code. Vince Ready was appointed as Special Officer by the government to intervene in the dispute between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys, which affects upwards of 4000 Safeway members.


Q: What is the Special Officer able to do?

A: The powers of the Special Officer are outlined in the BC Labour Relations Code:

(2) On his or her appointment, the special officer must investigate the dispute or difference and may

(a) confer with the parties,

(b) hold hearings,

(c) make recommendations,

(d) make orders he or she considers necessary or advisable, including, without limitation, orders that the dispute or difference be submitted to a specified stage or step in the grievance procedure under the collective agreement, or

(e) arbitrate the dispute or difference himself or herself.


Q: I’ve heard that the Sobeys has said that UFCW 1518 is delaying bargaining. What is actually happening?

A: The employer alleges that the union has used stall tactics in order to delay bargaining. In fact, what we have done is responsibly challenge Sobeys’ desire to force major concessions on our members. The union bargaining committee received and reviewed the employer’s written submission and submitted our rebuttal.


Q: What is the timeline for any decisions, orders or recommendations from the Special Officer?

A: This is at the discretion of Special Officer Ready. We have no information about next steps at this time, but will share any new information with members as we receive it. As the Special Officer is on vacation in August, we do not expect to hear anything until after he returns.

Safeway bargaining update

Despite allegations from Sobeys that the union has delayed bargaining, UFCW 1518 continues to responsibly challenge the employer’s major concessionary demands.

The union bargaining committee received and has reviewed Sobeys’ position, submitted to Special Officer Vince Ready as part of the Section 106 proceedings. Mr. Ready was appointed as Special Officer by Labour Minister Harry Bains when President Ivan Limpright appealed to the government for help after negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement stalled last March.

The union will provide a fulsome response to the employer’s position by July 20. After that, Special Officer Ready will review all submissions and advise the parties of next steps. No dates for future meetings have been set as yet.

Save-On-Foods Shop Stewards: Check your emails!

During the implementation of the Save-On-Foods re-opener, we will be sending important information to Shop Stewards by email.

We remind shop stewards to please check their email.

If you are not on our email list please contact [email protected] or call 1.800.661.3708 and ask to speak to Member Records.

FreshCo Agreement Reached in Manitoba

An agreement has now been reached by UFCW 832 with Sobeys that will cover FreshCo stores in Manitoba.

We will post details once they have been made available by UFCW 832.

UPDATE: July 19th, 2018

Details have been made available by UFCW 832

FreshCo Conversion Language – Appendix F

FreshCo CBA – Appendix G

Union submits written position on outstanding issues in Section 106 proceedings

Section 106 proceedings between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys continue, headed by Special Officer Vince Ready.

It is evident to Special Officer Ready that the parties have reached a deadlock, with the employer continuing to demand poverty concessions and the bargaining committee rejecting all concessionary demands.

That’s why the Special Officer requested written submissions on outstanding issues from both union and company. For UFCW 1518, this includes the union’s right of first refusal grievance related to the 10 Safeway store closures, the reopener of the collective agreement and Sobeys’ desire for a new banner (FreshCo).

The union submitted its position along with a rationale. Sobeys will respond to Special Officer Ready by July 13. The bargaining committee will review the company’s response and submit the union’s rebuttal by July 20. The Special Officer will then consider all of the submissions and alert the parties of next steps. No future meeting dates have yet been scheduled.

“The bargaining committee has been working tirelessly to stand up for our Sobeys members and fight for a fair  contract with improvements to job security, wages and benefits. They’re also working to ensure members can capture more hours and move up the wage scale faster,” said President Ivan Limpright. “And this is in the face of Sobeys’ relentless concessionary demands. No doubt about it, it’s a battle.”

New courses for community health!

Two new courses designed for members working in community health and social services will launch this fall. Shop Steward Fundamentals and Advanced Shop Steward will join Health & Safety Essentials on the roster of trainings created with a specific health care focus.

“At the 2018 Health Care Conference, we committed to offering more education for our members working in the community health and social services sectors, and I’m pleased to say we’re delivering on that commitment,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak.

The courses range from one to three days and will take place over three weeks this fall in September, October and November. “Spaces are limited for this first year and we promised first priority to all stewards and activists who were invited to the Health Care Conference last May,” said Secretary-Treasurer Novak. “However, we are committed to ongoing education and will open up registration for these courses later this year and into 2019.”

New union seminar launches in Prince George

Throughout the summer and fall, shop stewards at Save-On-Foods stores across the province will be invited to attend a special seminar held by the union to discuss ways to empower stewards as well how to make their meetings with management more productive.

The seminars will be facilitated by Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak, along with various shop stewards throughout the province.

The seminar kick offs in Prince George next week . “We are looking forward to starting these seminars in the north because we know there is excellent work being done by our Save-On Foods shop stewards and we want to hear from them on what is working and where they need more support from their union,” explained Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “In more remote regions  of BC, union representatives aren’t always able to make it to the monthly Growing our Future meetings and we want to provide the resources our stewards need to hold management accountable to following the terms of the contract.”

The idea for Growing Our Future was conceived in the 2013 round of bargaining. The meetings were designed to take a proactive approach to solving workplace problems by encouraging candid discussion between store management, shop stewards and members. “The intent was to strengthen the voice of our stewards, who are on the front line of resolving issues at store level, and ensure they’re on equal footing with management,” Secretary-Treasurer Novak said. “In many Save-On-Foods stores this has worked effectively but we know there’s room for improvement and to make those changes we need to hear directly from our activists.”

The Growing Our Future seminar will enable shop stewards to provide feedback on how their meetings can be improved. It will also give union leadership the chance to learn from members. “It’s critical that we hear firsthand from our stewards about what kind of support they need to continue to do their important work.”

While the seminar will focus on Growing our Future, Secretary-Treasurer Novak said it is also a good opportunity for shop stewards to ask questions and learn more about the recently ratified collective agreement. “It’s a chance for them to deepen their knowledge so they’re better equipped to help members.”

Growing Our Future seminars will take place in regions across BC throughout the summer and fall. All active Save-On-Foods shop stewards will be invited to attend.