Union Office Holiday Hours

These are the holiday hours of operation for our New Westminster office:

December 24 8:30-3:00
December 25/26 Closed
December 27/28 8:30-5:00
December 31 8:30-3:00
January 1 Closed

Wishing you a safe and happy holidays from all of us to all of you!

Port McNeil IGA members ratify new contract, avoid strike

Members working at IGA in Port McNeil ratified a new collective agreement by a strong majority last week after more than a year of bargaining. The deal comes after a long, uphill battle, including three rounds of mediation at the BC Labour Relations Board.

But the 60-member bargaining unit stood their ground, rejecting the employer’s first offer and taking a successful strike vote. “Our members know what they are worth and they sent a clear message that they expected to be treated fairly and with respect,” said Executive Assistant Patrick Johnson.

At a time when wages in the private sector are stagnant, the agreement features a two percent wage increase in each year of the four-year deal, retroactive to October 2017, in addition to a $50 (gift card) signing bonus. The employer will now match RRSP contributions for two tax years as well as implement paid funeral leave for “step” family members.

“The union was also successful in preventing the employer from adding a third excluded management position, which is an important win,” Johnson said. “There’s no doubt that this improved agreement comes as a result of the members standing together. By giving the bargaining committee a strike mandate, they effectively brought IGA back to the bargaining table and mediation.”

Johnson thanked the bargaining committee, made up of members Sandra Brandson and Bob Roe, assisted by union representative Ashley Campbell and director Kim Balmer.



Union sends letter to Sobeys CEO on positive financial performance

In light of Sobeys greater-than-expected gains in sales and profitability in their last quarter, as reported in the media yesterday, Kim Novak sent the following letter to CEO and president Michael Medline, copied to Special Officer Vince Ready:

December 14, 2018
Mr. Michael Medline, President & CEO
Empire Company Limited
Stellarton, Nova Scotia  B0K 1S0

Dear Mr. Medline:

We read with interest in the media about Empire’s success in its latest quarter, with sales performance exceeding expectations and a reported profit of almost $104 million. We are pleased to see things moving in the right direction.

We note, however, that this healthy gain in sales and profits was earned while our members continued to receive the wages and benefits of the current collective agreement in the Safeway stores you operate in British Columbia, which you have told our bargaining committee, the media and Special Officer Vince Ready, must be gutted in order to regain financial stability in BC.

We have been engaged in a very difficult round of bargaining with Sobeys since the beginning of this year, which has led to animosity and increased tensions among your staff, our members. Despite this, they continue to work hard on behalf of your company and continue to be a significant reason for increasing sales and profit.

Our members, like all working people, deserve a living wage. As importantly, our members deserve recognition and respect for their efforts in helping turn things around, despite very difficult working conditions at times, and proposals put forth by their employer indicating, without shame, that they are worth less than what they currently earn. Safeway’s abysmal employee retention itself attests to the pressing need for higher – not lower – compensation.

Once again, we are pleased to see the “good, consistent performance” your company continues to experience, including in the western region where there is “much better performance despite a challenging economy”.

We expect with this robust increase to your profitability that our members will see the benefits in their job security, rather than an ongoing attack on their wages and benefits from you as their employer.


Kim Novak

cc Vince Ready

Members at Source Office Furniture ratify second collective agreement

After three months of bargaining, UFCW 1518 members working at Source Office Furniture in Burnaby unanimously ratified a four-year collective agreement. The deal is only the second collective agreement for this 26-member bargaining unit consisting of drivers, machine operators, assemblers and service people and represents significant improvements over their previous non-union wages and working conditions.

“Since joining UFCW 1518, these members have made great gains in wages, benefits and health and safety,” said Executive Assistant Patrick Johnson. “It’s a compelling example of the power of organizing and collective bargaining.”

Among other highlights, the new agreement features a $600 signing bonus as well as a large wage increase. “Members will receive a wage hike in the range of 20 to 26 percent over the life of the agreement,” Johnson said. “The increase is retroactive to May 31, 2018, so the employer will be paying out almost $32,000 to our 26 members – that’s a nice chunk of change before the holidays.”

After two rounds of bargaining with the union, the employer came to realize that workers’ issues were also their issues. “Retention has been a big problem for Source, and now they understand that they have to pay workers fairly in order to keep them,” added Johnson. “So in addition to wage increases, we also negotiated a wage retention grid. Members will now receive an extra 50 cents an hour when they reach four years of employment. Then they’ll get another 50 cents when they hit eight, 10 and 15 years.”

Other gains include the addition of a fourth week of paid vacation, a 50 percent increase in the boot allowance and the introduction of a meal allowance. The employer will now pay $100 for medical reports and new statutory leaves were added. “This is a good agreement and a vast improvement in the wages and working conditions that existed prior to unionizing,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “This is what workers can achieve when they stand together with a union behind them.” She offered a special thank you to the members on the bargaining committee, Carlo Sepe and Sasa Boskivic for their hard work representing their co-workers in this round of negotiations. They were assisted by union representative Michelle Fedosoff and director Kim Balmer


Union wins for Stong’s members

With an overwhelming YES vote, UFCW 1518 members at Stong’s Market in Dunbar ratified the re-opener of their collective agreement last week. Stong’s Market has a long history in British Columbia, building their original storefront in 1955 on Dunbar St. Buy the 1960s, Stong’s was a five-store grocery chain, with workers represented by UFCW 1518.

It was a tough round of bargaining that required assistance from mediator Grant McArthur. “The employer came to the table looking for significant concessions,” said director Kim Balmer. “We were able to maintain the integrity of the collective agreement, achieve some modest gains for more senior employees and make significant improvements for newer members.”

The agreement has start rates across the wage grid that are 40 cents above the new minimum wage. Importantly, Grid B members will be placed onto the new wage grid with all their career hours intact; they also gained short term disability as well employer funding to create a dental plan.

The deal includes a modest wage increase for Grid A members, who were already earning a living wage. Importantly, Balmer added, the union was successful in defending accumulated time off (ATO), despite Stong’s initial proposal to eliminate this important benefit.

The contract also features domestic violence leave provisions, transfer language and stronger shop steward language. “This is a very solid win,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “I want to thank the bargaining committee for their time and effort in negotiating this agreement for our members.”

The bargaining committee consists of members Gary Fisk, Dave Pearson and Aaron Audet, assisted by union representative Jason Mann and director Kim Balmer​. Negotiations for the re-opener for Stong’s Northwoods location begin next year.

Chris Lee

By day, Chris Lee is a mild-mannered service clerk at Save-On-Foods in Whitehorse. Cheerful and friendly, he is known for his ever-changing, crazy coloured hair. After work, however, Lee is a superhero. He’s a community leader who sits on the board of directors for three non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting people living with disabilities. And he’s a Special Olympics athlete and gold medalist. Lee is matter-of-fact about his impressive resume: “I felt this was something I could do with my skills.”

The 31 year-old began his athletic career with soccer, playing defense for his team, the Charging Moose. Seven years ago, he also took up curling. “I wasn’t active enough, and it was a sport I wanted to try!” After 16 years of competing in the Special Olympics, he has an impressive 12 medals, including several golds and a silver medal in soccer from the 2018 Vancouver games. For Lee, becoming a Special Olympian not only benefited his health, it also boosted his self-esteem. “Playing sports gives me more confidence in what I do as a person,” he asserts.

This confidence has encouraged Lee’s community advocacy. He is the Athlete Representative on the Special Olympics Yukon board of directors. He sits on the board of the Yukon Association for Community Living, which promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities. Most recently, he was appointed as an advocate for people with disabilities on the People First Society of Yukon board.

Lee is clearly a passionate advocate and an accomplished athlete. But when union representative Kelly Malcolmson first met him, she saw a different side: union activist. “Chris has an amazing relationship with customers and staff. I want to get him more involved with the union, because we need more disability advocates like him,” she explains. “I think he would make a great shop steward!”

Lee plans to stand as an alternate shop steward in his store’s next elections and is excited about future opportunities with UFCW 1518. Being a steward is a natural fit, and an obvious next step in his advocacy work: “I like helping people,” says Lee. “And I also like the union!”

Find out more about our social justice mandate and the UFCW Canada Human Rights, Equity and Diversity Committee here.

Members at Snowcrest Foods vote YES

About 65 UFCW 1518 members working at Snowcrest Foods ratified a strong renewal agreement yesterday after five months of bargaining. The four-year deal made significant strides toward achieving wage parity between two pay schedules.

About 85 percent of the 63-member bargaining unit are covered by the lower paid Schedule B. Under the renewed agreement, these members will receive a wage hike of between 34-54 percent over four years. The higher paid, longer service members paid according to Schedule A received wage increases totaling 11 percent over the life of the agreement, with three percent of this amount retroactive to March 25, 2018. According to Snowcrest, the total value of the monetary increases is $1.5 million above their current costs, with retroactive pay alone reaching in excess of $123,000.

“The union had a mandate to equalize the pay schedules. We weren’t able to fully close the gap, but we made significant strides,” said director Kim Balmer.

Additionally, a range of “off work” hours and statutory leaves will now be counted as hours worked, putting more money in members’ pockets for fulfilling obligations such as union leave, jury duty and compassionate care. Other gains include a two dollar per hour enhanced heavy lifting premium for Schedule B labourers; a modest increase to the UFCW Dental Plan; an increase to the safety boot allowance; and a hike in severance pay in the event of plant closure.

“Our bargaining committee did an excellent job,” stated Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “I’d like to thank committee members Harminder Brar, Ken Tober and Peter Yewell for their hard work in getting the best agreement possible for our members.”

UFCW 1518 represents at BC Fed convention

UFCW 1518 sent more than 50 delegates to represent the union at the 58th convention of the BC Federation of Labour last week. The BC Fed is the governing body of the provincial labour movement, representing 500,000 workers from more than 50 affiliated unions.

There were many highlights of the five-day convention: Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak was sworn in as Officer of the Federation while Executive Assistant Patrick Johnson was sworn in as Executive Council member. Members rose to speak in support of many important resolutions, including ones on improving health care for seniors, implementing universal pharmacare and supporting precarious workers. Premier John Horgan received a rock star’s welcome. It was the first time in more than 16 years that a premier had spoken at the BC Fed convention, and he spent time with delegates after his speech, posing for selfies with all who wanted one. Other notable speakers included Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, and leader of the federal NDP Jagmeet Singh, all of whom acknowledged the importance of the labour movement in making a better world.

Irene Lanzinger, first woman president of the Federation, did not seek a third term. She will be remembered for her many accomplishments as leader of the Fed, not least among them winning the Fight for $15. Laird Cronk, an organizer with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was acclaimed as the Federation’s new president while Sussanne Skidmore, BCGEU executive vice-president, was acclaimed as Secretary-Treasurer. Skidmore replaces Aaron Eckman, who also did not stand for re-election.

“I am so proud of our delegates!” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “They spoke passionately and articulately about the issues that matter most to our membership. I’m thrilled that we have such strong advocates for working people on our team.”

On the last day of the convention, Secretary-Treasurer Novak rose to publicly thank and honour Ivan Limpright, who was celebrating his last day as president of UFCW 1518. Limpright served the union in a range of capacities for more than three decades and was president for the past 12 years. “It was very emotional but also very humbling to acknowledge Ivan in front of the convention,” she said. “The standing ovation that delegates gave him is just a small indication of Ivan’s contribution, not just to our members and union, but to the labour movement and working people.”

Click here to see our photos of the 58th convention of the BC Federation of Labour.