Mountain Equipment Co-op workers join UFCW 1518!

About 170 workers employed at Mountain Equipment Co-op are the newest members of UFCW 1518, voting to join the union by an overwhelming majority last week. The YES vote follows a successful organizing drive led by MEC employees at the Broadway location who wanted to bring positive change to their workplace. UFCW 1518 represents 22,000 members working in the retail, community health, industrial and professional sectors across British Columbia.

“Workers are their strongest when they stand together to fight for fairness, and that is the power that a union can bring,” said President Kim Novak. “We are thrilled to represent MEC employees and work with them to achieve improvements in their workplaces and contract.”

UFCW 1518 has a long history of working productively with co-ops to ensure they are successful in the communities in which they operate while also providing effective representation for workers. “We have a lot of experience with co-ops and we are excited to add MEC to that group,” added President Novak. UFCW 1518 also represents Alberni District Co-op, Hornby Island Co-op, Mackenzie Co-op, Mid-Island Co-op, Sointula Co-op and Ucluelet Co-op.

“The co-operative movement shares much in common with the labour movement, and that values alignment makes for a good fit with our union,” President Novak affirmed. “We look forward to working constructively with MEC to fulfill their guiding values, including social responsibility and caring for others.”


Community health workers move closer to wage parity

After months of talks, the Low Wage Redress Committee announced the allocation of $40 million in additional funding negotiated in the last round of bargaining between the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC). The funding is intended to address wage discrepancies between community health workers and their counterparts who work in facilities such as hospitals.

The multi-union CBA represents about 16,000 community health workers across British Columbia, including 2000 UFCW 1518 members. The Low Wage Redress Committee is made up of representatives from CBA unions as well as the employer. The deadline for allocating the funds was November 30, 2018 but the parties reached an impasse and the outstanding issues were brought before arbitrator Vince Ready.

“Because of the low wage redress funding that the bargaining association negotiated, our members’ wages will be within 1.5 percent of their comparable classification in the facilities sub-sector by the end of the agreement in April, 2021,” said President Kim Novak. “It is a fantastic achievement and it is long overdue.” The low wage redress funding is in addition to a general wage hike of two percent in each year of the three year deal.  Low wage redress funding is effective April 5, which is the first pay period after April 1, 2019.

Most UFCW 1518 members are classified as Community Health Worker 2 (now grid 21), Mental Health Worker 2 (now grid 34), and Scheduler 2. Because the low wage redress funding will be applied first to classifications farthest away from the facilities wage rates,  wages for members in the Scheduler 2 classification will not reflect low wage redress funding until the second and third years of the collective agreement.

“In addition to improving wages, some of the low wage redress monies went to a night shift premium, which I’m pleased to say will reach parity with the FBA,” President Novak explained. “If members work the majority of their shift between midnight and 8:00 a.m. they will receive a premium of $2 an hour, and that will rise to $2.50 by the end of the contract.”

Most of the classifications in the CBA agreement have been reclassified to reflect their equivalent in the Facilities Bargaining Association (FBA). Classifications are listed in the job description, which the employer can provide to members on request. Please click here for the updated wage schedule (Schedule A in the collective agreement and corresponding pay rates. Click here for the new grid assignments.

Some jobs remain unclassified, including some transit drivers represented by UFCW 1518, and funds have been set aside so these members receive the low wage redress in the second year of the contract as the committee works to classify all jobs.

New contract in effect for community health members!

The new collective agreement for UFCW 1518 members working in community health went into effect this week. The agreement brings in yearly wage increases of two percent over the next three years, in addition to enhanced benefits, provisions for improved scheduling and measures to address staff retention.

UFCW 1518 represents about 2,000 of the 16,000 home support workers who ratified the three-year contract with health employers across the province last June.

This follows last week’s announcement that most of the issues around $40 million in low wage redress funding, one of the major gains of the last round of bargaining, had been resolved. According to the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA), a coordinated multi-union group to which UFCW 1518 belongs, and the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) the outstanding items will be dealt with by June 30.

“Because of the care our community health workers provide, many seniors and other vulnerable people are able to remain living independently in their own homes. It is a critical service and an essential part of our health care system,” said President Kim Novak.  “With this collective agreement, our members will be more fairly compensated for the important work they do, moving closer to wage parity with other health care workers.”

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.

Please click here for the summary document.