Community social service workers ratify contract with wage increases & low wage redress

Social service workers represented by the Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) voted  85.7 per cent in favour of ratifying a new collective agreement with significant compensation increases.

CSSBA is the bargaining agent for 10 unions, including UFCW 1518, representing about 15,000 members working in the community social services sector across British Columbia.

“I am pleased there are some long overdue improvements to this collective agreement,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “Our members who work in community social services around the province are incredibly dedicated and committed to provide the best care to their clients. We are proud to represent them in the work that they do in the workplaces and their communities.”

Highlights of the agreement includes:

  • General wage increases of two percent in each year, plus significant money for low wage redress to address recruitment and retention issues in the sector.
  • Strong improvements to occupational health and safety including a Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Council
  • The restoration of statutory holiday pay for part-time and casual employees
  • A non-provincially funded childcare commitment from government to look at fair compensation for early childhood educators
  • An improved process to assist the parties in better labour relations
  • Enhancements to health and welfare benefit plans to start closing the gap with the health sector
  • The renewal of the labour adjustment education fund and funding for health and safety and violence prevention training.

Secretary-Treasurer Novak acknowledged there is still more work to be done: “But we’re going to take this agreement and build upon it.”

The new collective agreement will be in effect from April 1, 2019 until March 31, 2022.

Safeway members vote 99% NO to reject Special Officer recommendations

Safeway members have voted 99 percent against recommendations made by Special Officer Vince Ready in the ongoing dispute between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys. The union held a province-wide vote this week after Mr. Ready tabled a report that alarmed leadership and the bargaining committee, composed of rank and file members.

“Our Safeway members have given a very strong mandate to our committee that these recommendations are unacceptable,” said President Ivan Limpright. “A very clear and unequivocal rejection of these recommendations is what we need Sobeys to see. Our membership is strong in their conviction. They don’t deserve to have their hard fought and bargained wages and benefits slashed because of Sobeys mismanagement in British Columbia.”

The union’s bargaining committee will be reconvening next week.

“We would hope that this strong response from our members will get Sobeys, with assistance from the Special Officer back to the table to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement, and that Sobeys will finally provide the disclosure of their plans and financials to our committee,” added Limpright.

Last day of voting on Special Officer report

Voting on the recommendations handed down by Special Officer Vince Ready in the ongoing dispute between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys continues until 7:30pm today.

Polling stations opened Monday and Safeway members across the province had the opportunity to review the recommendations and ask questions of the Safeway bargaining committee, union representatives and leadership before casting their vote.

The recommendations, which deal with the UFCW 1518’s right of first refusal grievance regarding the closure of 10 Safeway stores, negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement, and talks for a new FreshCo agreement have alarmed the union. “The recommendations are unacceptable,” President Ivan Limpright stated unequivocally. “We anticipate our members are going to come out and give our committee a strong mandate to reject these recommendations.”

President Limpright urged Safeway members to vote in full force today, the last day of voting in locations outside of the lower mainland. “Our Safeway members built that company and they deserve respect, not poverty concessions.”

Click here for today’s voting dates, times and locations outside of the lower mainland. Safeway members can vote at any location, as long as they have their union card or photo identification.

Results will be published at the conclusion of the ballot count tonight, as well as emailed to members.

Sobeys censors union communication in Safeway stores

In the midst of an ongoing labour dispute with UFCW 1518, Sobeys has begun censoring union communication to members in stores.

The union has confirmed that Sobeys is directing their managers at Safeway stores in British Columbia to remove a meeting notice that had been posted on the union bulletin board. The meeting notice alerts members to a province-wide vote being held for all Safeway members this week.

The removal of meeting notices from the union bulletin board is a violation of Section 19.13 of the collective agreement, which allows for meeting notices to be posted. The union has filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the BC Labour Relations Board, as well as a grievance.

“This is outrageous,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “Our members have a contractual right to receive communication from the union at work on the union bulletin board, including notice of meetings. Sobeys doesn’t want our members to exercise their democratic right to vote on these recommendations. This is censorship, plain and simple.”

The union is holding the vote to enable Safeway members to make their views known regarding recommendations made by Special Officer Vince Ready earlier this month, and to give the bargaining committee a clear mandate as to how to proceed. The recommendations are sweeping, with unknown and potentially devastating consequences, both for UFCW 1518 members and the grocery industry in BC.

“Our Safeway membership needs to come out in full force this week and vote. We need to show Sobeys that they can’t continue to disrespect our members like this,” Secretary-Treasurer Novak said. “It’s time for the company to come back to the table and properly negotiate. That means moving away from their concessions-only set of demands and toward a living wage for all members.”

Within the Lower Mainland, voting takes place from 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., with a presentation at 5:00 p.m. Please click here for dates and locations.

Outside the Lower Mainland, voting takes place from 2:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., with a presentation at 5:00 p.m. Please click here for dates and locations.

Safeway members can vote at any location in the province as long as they have their photo ID or union card.

Bargaining committee recommends rejection of Special Officer’s report

UFCW 1518’s bargaining committee has rejected recommendations made by Special Officer Vince Ready in the ongoing dispute with Sobeys and is strongly encouraging members vote against them in next week’s province-wide vote.

Mr. Ready was appointed by Minister of Labour Harry Bains after negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement stalled last spring. He “met with the parties on multiple occasions and received hundreds of pages of submissions and replies on outstanding issues.” The Special Officer’s 16-page report described a “conceptual and practical gulf separating the parties”, and made the following recommendations:

  • place the majority of Safeway stores under Quarterly Review
  • adjourn the reopener until a future date, to be determined
  • negotiate a new collective agreement for FreshCo

Mr. Ready further declined to make any recommendations regarding the union’s right of first refusal grievance. Click here to view the recommendations (with the financial information redacted due to legal requirements).

“Let me be crystal clear: the union committee does not accept Mr. Ready’s recommendations. Not only are they are harmful to our members, they have serious negative implications for the grocery industry in BC. What’s more, they don’t guarantee a solution for Sobeys,” said President Ivan Limpright. “The company’s mismanagement is the reason for their financial difficulties and they think taking it out of our members’ pockets is a fair way to regain profitability.”

It’s critical that the Special Officer hear from the membership that the recommendations are unacceptable, President Limpright continued. That’s why the union is holding a province wide vote. “The union’s bargaining committee is strongly recommending a no vote to reject the recommendations,” said Limpright. “We need our membership to come out and vote and show Sobeys that we are united against their attack on our members and the grocery industry in BC.”

President Limpright added that in the absence of full disclosure from the company, the union fears the worst. “We can only surmise that Sobeys deliberately drove down profitability in order to influence the reopener negotiations in their favour and to create chaos in the grocery industry. We have very serious concerns that the company has plans to potentially convert all existing Safeway locations to FreshCo or other discount banners, like Chalo, with discount collective agreements that make it harder for workers to make ends meet.”

UFCW 1518 remains open to meeting with Sobeys to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement that contains strong job security language for all members. So far, however, the company has refused to meet with the union’s bargaining committee, ignoring a request for a meeting yesterday. “We can’t negotiate with an employer who doesn’t come to the table,” President Limpright noted. “And we can’t make informed decisions or negotiate effectively without full disclosure from Sobeys. Unfortunately, Sobeys continues to ignore or deny our requests for information.”

A full scale conversion of Safeway stores threatens the livelihood of more than 4000 UFCW 1518 members, President Limpright explained, with serious implications not only for the union but for the grocery industry in BC.



Special Officer delivers recommendations

Special Officer Vince Ready has submitted his non-binding recommendations to the union as part of the Section 106 proceedings that have been ongoing since negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement with Sobeys faltered in March.

The provincial government appointed Mr. Ready as Special Officer after President Ivan Limpright appealed to Labour Minister Harry Bains for assistance. Las month, Special Officer Ready asked both union and employer to provide written submissions on the outstanding issues.

For UFCW 1518, those issues are its right of first refusal grievance stemming from the closure of 10 Safeway stores, Sobeys’ desire to open stores under its FreshCo banner with a discount collective agreement, and the company’s refusal to budge from its demand for poverty concessions in bargaining.

“I have received the recommendations and have reconvened the bargaining committee,” said President Ivan Limpright. “We’ll meet next week to carefully review the recommendations and seek advice from our legal counsel before deciding on next steps.”