Sobeys announces 10 FreshCo conversions, delivers buyout offers

This morning, Sobeys advised UFCW 1518 of their plans to convert 10 Safeway locations to its discount banner FreshCo. Five of the locations have been closed since July 2018; the other five locations are set to close in coming months.

The company also began making personalized buyout offers to all employees as ordered by Special Officer Vince Ready, who was appointed by the provincial government in 2018.

Sobeys will close the following Safeway locations for several months of renovations before reopening them as FreshCo in the summer and fall: Abbotsford, Aldergrove, Downtown Chilliwack, Delta/Ladner and Maple Ridge. Members at these locations received letters today, offering options of a buyout, buydown or transfer to other Safeway locations.

“Empire has made it clear that their bottom line comes before the interests of their hard working and dedicated employees,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “Their desire to move to a discount banner has led to challenges in these existing, established Safeway stores.”

UFCW 1518 members in the stores announced to be closing today will have some options, including the ability to move to another Safeway store, take a severance of up to $65,000 depending on seniority and job classification, or choose a buy down option.

FreshCo will be represented by UFCW 1518; however there are issues with the collective agreement issued by Mr. Ready and the ability for Sobeys to convert; both issues are being appealed to the BC Labour Relations Board and the BC Court of Appeal.

Sobeys also issued voluntary buyout offers in all other Safeway locations in accordance with Mr. Ready’s decision. “There’s been a lot of uncertainty around the buyout offer since Mr. Ready handed down his ruling in December,” explained President Kim Novak. “We’re glad the offers are finally being made, but our legal counsel needs to review everything. We’re working as quickly as we can to ensure that things proceed legally and that members are properly informed.”

The union is also hosting special information sessions with Safeway members across the province in the coming weeks. Please click here for dates, times and locations of the special information sessions. In regions where there aren’t information sessions, union representatives have scheduled special store visits to connect directly with members. Please check your union board for the notice.

First contract for members at Rossdown Natural Foods!

Members working at Rossdown Natural Foods ratified their first collective agreement last week, securing important gains for about 200 members working at the farm-to-plate producer of organic, certified humane poultry.

Although they joined UFCW 1518 more than a year ago, Rossdown members faced a challenging path to their first contract. “There’s no doubt members needed the union. The employer was playing favourites; there was no fairness in scheduling or pay raises. And the workers were suffering,” explained Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. “The union fought hard for these members. We stood up to the boss in a way they couldn’t by themselves. We filed  complaints at the Labour Relations Board and were finally able to pressure the employer into negotiating a solid first collective agreement.”

The two-year deal makes great strides for members, including shop steward rights and a stepped grievance procedure as well as a job posting process and new health and safety provisions. There are also improvements to wages, with some members receiving a $2 an hour pay raise. A week of vacation was also added bringing it to four weeks for those who’ve worked 10 years or more.  “Before these members were being bullied. Now they have a voice and a union standing behind them, helping them fight for fairness.”

Secretary-Treasurer Johnson thanked the bargaining committee for their hard work in achieving a first collective agreement. “Sukwinder Sekhon and Manjinder Brar are dedicated employees who stepped up to become workplace leaders. Without their incredible commitment and countless hours of work, we would not have achieved this success.” He also commended union representatives Ravi Dhindsa and Bruce Temple for their leadership throughout the organizing campaign and bargaining process.


Union holds Safeway information sessions across BC

Over the next month, meetings will be held in various communities across British Columbia to connect with Safeway members regarding the recent decision issued by Special Officer Vince Ready.

President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson will attend special information meetings set up around the province to connect with members and discuss the Ready decision. Additionally, every Safeway store outside the meeting areas will receive a special one-hour visit by their union representative, who will have the latest information about the Ready decision. Please check your inbox for the meeting notice.

Date Region Location
Jan. 29 Vernon Prestige Hotel
Jan. 31 Kelowna Coast Capri Hotel
Feb. 4 Lower Mainland UFCW 1518 Office
Feb. 5 Cranbrook Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort
Feb. 6 Nelson Prestige Lakeside Resort
Feb. 11 Kamloops Coast Kamloops Hotel
Feb. 13 Chilliwack/Abbotsford Quality Hotel





President Kim Novak set to chart new territory

As the first woman president in the 120 year history of UFCW 1518, President Kim Novak’s rise within UFCW 1518 has been impactful and positive for members and the organization. She is charting new territory as a woman leading a union whose membership is mostly women working in community health and social services, the grocery and retail sector, and the food processing industry.

When Kim was first hired in 2007 as temporary staff in the Communications Department, she never imagined she would end up sitting at the president’s desk. But what was clear from the beginning was her passion for helping members. “Being in a position to advocate for members, help protect their rights and improve the quality of their work life was inspiring and just so gratifying,” Kim said. “And having been a cashier and junior clerk with Safeway shortly before I started working for the union, I could relate to the challenges and experiences many of our members have.”

After completing her Bachelors degree at the University of British Columbia, Kim was hired permanently, commencing more than a decade of service at UFCW 1518. She was promoted from union representative to director, and in 2015 she was elected Secretary-Treasurer by the Executive Board. When Ivan Limpright announced his retirement after 34 years of service, she was unanimously elected President by the Executive Board. “I am incredibly humbled to take on this leadership role and with the assistance of the Executive Board, we will move forward to strengthen our union.”

When Kim became Secretary-Treasurer four years ago, her oldest son was only five months old. “I am so grateful to Ivan and our Board for their support and for electing a leader who is also balancing a young family, because that’s what many of our members do every day,” she reflected. “As a mom to two busy little boys, I am proud to be the president of UFCW 1518 and I’m excited to raise my children to know the value of advocacy and activism.”

Kim is keen to continue some of the initiatives she began as Secretary-Treasurer, including the innovative HeadStart program as well as a revamped education program for members and stewards. She also piloted a Steward Appreciation program, which continues to roll out through 2019.

Kim is proud of her accomplishments at the bargaining table, where she negotiated the first paid domestic violence leave in a UFCW retail contract in North America. She helped achieve gains that promote gender equity within collective agreements, including language that ensures women who take time off due to childbirth and child rearing are no longer penalized. “I’m inspired to be a leader who brings about progressive change for members and their communities and who makes working people’s concerns a priority,” she said, adding that engaging members and empowering them to become workplace leaders demonstrates the value and strength of the union.

Effective January 8, the Executive Board unanimously elected Patrick Johnson as UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer. “I look forward to working with Patrick in his new role,” Kim affirmed. “The passion and focus he brings to building our power as a financially strong, politically active and member-centered union is exactly what we need to continue to grow into the future.”

Together, Kim and Patrick’s goal is to help members become an unstoppable force. There has already been an increase in engagement and members’ enthusiasm to become more involved in their union, whether at work, in the community or as as part of the broader labour movement. “Our focus is to connect with our members where they live and work, across sectors and across the province,” said Kim. “It’s through those conversations and interactions that we learn what our members need from their union.”

Kim and Patrick will continue their travels around the province to meet with stewards and members, encouraging them to see that they are part of something much bigger: a global labour movement that fights for fairness and social justice, one worker at a time.


Statement of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en facing forced removal from their territory

UFCW 1518 is committed to reconciliation and to being an ally to our First Nations members and communities. We support the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As such we call upon government, Coastal Gaslink and the RCMP to respect Wet’suwet’en unextinguished inherent title and rights to their territory and not attempt to suppress or supersede those rights in any way.

We are deeply concerned that RCMP action at the Gidem’ten checkpoint, before the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, interfered with the human rights of land defenders, invited supporters and the media, threatening foundational rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We call on government to ensure the protection of these rights going forward.

Recent activities have violated Wet’suwet’en law and jurisdiction, as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada Delgaamukw decision.  All government and corporate parties must work collaboratively and lawfully with Wet’suwet’en leadership to find a resolution according to the spirit of reconciliation.

UFCW 1518 represents 22,000 people working in the community health, retail and industrial food sectors, including many members who live in regions impacted by land claim disputes.



Celebration of Ivan Limpright’s 34 years with UFCW 1518

This week, UFCW 1518 together with representatives of the labour community celebrated the career and retirement of Ivan Limpright, honouring his activism with the union that spanned more than three decades.

Friends, family, colleagues and comrades were in attendance, including UFCW Canada president Paul Meinema, former UFCW 1518 president Brooke Sundin, and UFCW leaders from across Canada, including locals 175, 247, 832, 1006 and 1400. The new president of the BC Federation of Labour Laird Cronk was on hand to celebrate Ivan’s lifetime of accomplishments, along with Stephanie Smith, president of BCGEU, Paul Faoro, president of CUPE BC and United Steelworkers director Steve Hunt.

Labour movement leaders gathered together with UFCW 1518 executive board members and staff to acknowledge Ivan’s contribution to the union’s mission and membership, as well as the broader labour movement. UFCW 1518 thanks Ivan for his years of service, dedication and leadership of our organization and on behalf of our members!

Kim Novak sworn in as President of UFCW 1518

Kim Novak was sworn in as President of UFCW 1518, stepping into the position vacated when Ivan Limpright retired last month after 34 years of service. President Novak swore her oath to uphold the union’s constitution as well as the values of the labour movement at a brief ceremony led by UFCW Canada Paul Meinema earlier this week.

“I am honoured to have been elected by our Executive Board to be president of UFCW 1518, and to be the first woman in the 120 year history of our organization to hold this title,” President Novak said. “It is through direct connection with our members in their workplaces and communities that we know the priorities we need to take forward: empowerment, education and action. My focus is to execute on this vision and and lead our union forward.”

Patrick Johnson was also unanimously elected as Secretary-Treasurer by the Executive Board. “It is a great privilege to be elected to work on behalf of our members. I’m looking forward to continuing to build the union’s power, both financially and politically,” said Secretary-Treasurer Johnson.

President Novak was hired as a summer student working in the Communications Department in 2007. Soon she was offered full-time employment and moved up the ranks from union representative to director and in 2015 she became Secretary-Treasurer. A lifelong activist, Secretary-Treasurer Johnson has been organizing non-unionized workers with UFCW 1518 since 2010. He served as Executive Assistant until his election this week.

Both President Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Johnson are passionate about the work of the labour movement and advocating for the rights of members. They bring a strong commitment to member engagement, education and empowerment that is already being realized in 2019’s line up of trainings and steward appreciation events.

Members are invited to meet our new leaders at the first quarterly union meeting of the year on March 6. President Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Johnson will also be visiting workplaces and communities across the province to connect with members directly.