UFCW 1518 signed a memorandum of agreement with Hornby Island Co-op this week to increase the wage scale, part way through a four-year collective agreement. Under the agreement, store clerk and senior clerk classifications will see significant hikes, putting the Co-op on the path to becoming a living wage employer.
“This is a fantastic example of the work the union has been doing to use the rising minimum wage to improve our members wages outside of bargaining,” said President Kim Novak. Typically, the only opportunity to adjust the wage scale occurs during negotiations for a new collective agreement. But, explains Novak, scheduled increases to British Columbias minimum wage implemented by the NDP have encouraged employers to improve wages in order to attract and retain employees.
“Hornby Island Co-op approached the union to discuss the possibility of increasing wages to deal with retention problems they were experiencing,” President Novak said. “With the assistance of union representative Ashley Campbell we were able to reach the agreement that brings significant improvement to wages for our members.”
Most steps on the on the new Store Clerk wage scale will see a dollar or more raise, retroactive to June 1, 2019 with further improvements effective December 1, 2019. The Senior Clerk scale remains the same until December 1, 2019, when it will increase by two percent. “Once again, we see how the minimum wage increases implemented by the NDP government have empowered the union to negotiate higher wages for our members. Employers are starting to realize that they need to pay a livable wage if they want to attract and keep skilled workers. “
Nominations for 2019 election set to open
June 25, 2019
Nominations for the election of UFCW 1518 President, Secretary-Treasurer, Recorder and Vice-Presidents open July 10, for the term of January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2023. The current term expires at the end of 2019.
The Election Notice was emailed and mailed to all stewards for posting to the union bulletin boards. It was also published in the summer issue of Update Magazine, which was mailed to members’ homes. The Election Notice includes information about the nomination process, including eligibility, as well as the election procedure.
If there are any contested positions once nominations close at noon on July 25, members will be mailed voting materials and instructions, and the vote will be conducted by secret mail-in ballot. An independent election committee made up of UFCW members has been appointed and will conduct all election business. Pablo Godoy, Regional Director for Western Canada, is the election chairperson, and will respond to any inquiries about the nomination and election process. He can be reached at [email protected].
What leadership challenges keep you up at night? That was one of the questions President Kim Novak fielded as part of an invited panel at the Canadian Industrial Relations Association’s conference, held at the University of British Columbia last week.
The panel, titled Unions, Leadership, Millennials: the Future of the Labour Movement, featured prominent BC labour leaders, including President Novak, Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour and Karen Ranalletta, president of CUPE 2950.
“What keeps me up and also drives me to want to lead our organization is how to be proactive and progressive in the work we are doing on behalf of our members, rather than reacting to the decisions of the employers,” President Novak said. “I also think about how to shift the motivation for why members engage and participate in our union from solely responding to individual workplace issues to fighting for a common, socially just cause.”
With 40 percent of the union’s membership under the age of 30, President Novak spoke from experience when asked about how UFCW 1518 remains relevant to younger workers. That means getting out of the union office and into their workplaces and communities to connect with people directly,” she explained.
The panel addressed the changing face of union membership and the growing diversity amongst members. “If we want to build solidarity and power in our union, we need to embrace difference, and learn from a wide range of perspectives and experiences. That’s why UFCW 1518 is working to challenge the status quo when it comes to representation and why we are fighting to make room for voices that have not been heard,” commented President Novak.
The panel also discussed the need for solidarity and communication among unions in BC to strengthen the labour movement for all unionized workers. “When we come together, we learn from each other’s successes and support each other through the challenges we face. That helps to build our collective voice and power to make progressive change.”
ReconciliAction: Tell the Senate to pass Bill C262 into law!
June 6, 2019
UFCW 1518’s Executive Board unanimously passed a motion to support the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) in their campaign to have a national reconciliation framework passed into law. Cree MP Romeo Saganash introduced Bill C262 to the Senate in an attempt to bring Canadian laws in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [source], and last year it passed the third reading. This came more than a decade after 144 countries – but shamefully not Canada – signed the declaration.
The bill has stagnated for more than a year and will die if not passed before the Senate rises at the end of June. “The UBCIC has called upon the labour movement to help ensure this important bill gets passed,” said President Kim Novak. “It’s critical that working people show our support for the human rights of Indigenous people by writing to our Senators and encouraging them to pass C262 into law.”
The BC Federation of Labour received a unanimous mandate at its convention last fall to hold the federal government accountable for implementing the Declaration. They are fully supporting the UBCIC in pushing for Bill C262 to be passed and are asking working people to stand as allies with their Indigenous co-workers, friends and neighbours.
“Bill C262 is about reconciliation,” added President Novak. “And we all have a part to play in that.” In its recommendations, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called upon the “federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement” the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a pathway towards reconciliation. [source]
Today Sobeys announced that six more Safeway stores in smaller BC communities will convert to Frescho, the company’s discount banner. “This announcement was made earlier this morning to our members in the six locations throughout BC. We have reached out to the employer to discuss how we can mitigate the impact on our members, particularly in communities where there are no other Safeway stores to transfer into,” said President Kim Novak.
The following stores will close some time in the fall and reopen as FreshCo at a future date that has not been communicated to the union: 100 Mile House (4926), Powell River (4963), Dilworth (4902), Downtown Vernon (4906), Sahali Kamloops (4933), William’s Lake (4956).
Members at those stores were issued option letters, which allow them to select a severance buyout according to the terms of Special Officer Vince Ready’s decision; remain at the converted FreshCo store under the terms of the Safeway collective agreement (seniority dependent); take a buy down; or transfer to another Safeway store based on seniority.
“Union representatives have been receiving questions from members in the six stores, and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson and I were in Powell River today shortly after the announcements were made to members,” said President Novak. “We know how important it is that members have as much information as possible before making the decisions on their option forms and we are working diligently to get more information out in the coming days.”
The first three FreshCo stores in BC opened their doors in May and are currently operating in former Safeway locations in Mission and Richmond. All FreshCo members in the province are represented by UFCW and their terms of employment are governed by a startup collective agreement imposed by Special Officer Ready.