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A Labour Day message from President Kim Novak

As we approach the last long weekend of the summer, we will all be celebrating Labour Day and the tireless activism of those in the labour movement who fight to improve the lives of all working people.

The history of our movement and the battles fought led to improved rights like the basic work week, parental leave, weekends and more. All of this happened because workers collectively stood together – in their workplaces, at the bargaining table, on the picket line and beyond.

It is this fight for dignity and respect for all workers that continues today. The struggle is not over and UFCW 1518 has a critical role fighting for fairness, especially as we continue to represent members in dynamic and ever changing industries.

Together, we must continue the fight for improved health and safety regulations and enforcement; to combat racism and discrimination in the workplace; to advocate for equity for ALL; to lobby government for labour code reform to protect the rights of workers and to make improvements for our members at the bargaining table – just to name a few.

Our local is approaching a membership of 24,000 members and we are continuing to grow across BC and the Yukon. With this growth, comes increased responsibility. Next month, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our New Westminster Office, and we will also be doing the Grand Opening of our new Kelowna office. These spaces allow us to put into action our mission of building member power through more training, education and direct member engagement.

Union representation throughout BC is essential to engage all members, which is why we are committed to more direct communication. It is important that we hear from you directly on what you need, and we are very pleased to report we continue to see an increase in member participation at meetings we hold across the province, telephone town halls, training seminars and community events.

We have seen members mobilize this past year fighting period poverty through the United Way’s Period Promise campaign, advocating for a fairer Labour Code at our Lobby Day event and exercising their democratic right to vote at our recently concluded UFCW 1518 election of officers. As federal elections are on the horizon, many of our members are also mobilizing their communities to support candidates who are tackling issues that matter to working people. I look forward to continue having members engaged in more initiatives that show the power workers have when they stand together.

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We have a busy fall and year ahead, but this Labour Day I encourage you to take a break and join us in celebrating what this movement has already achieved, together. UFCW 1518 will have a presence at the Labour Day celebration events in: Surrey, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Merville and Prince George. You can find more details about these events and other Labour Day celebrations in your area at ufcw1518.com/events.

I look forward to celebrating this important occasion together!

Happy Labour Day to all of you and your families,

 

Kim Novak

President, UFCW 1518

Results of UFCW 1518’s election of officers are in!

The UFCW 1518 election for vice presidents is now concluded and the results have been tallied. The winners of the five contested positions are: Laura Cipolato (Save-On-Foods, North Vancouver), Virgilio Encarnacion (Sofina Foods, Port Coquitlam), Rajiv Mehra (Grand River Foods, Abbotsford), David Diamond (Save-On-Foods, Kelowna) and Linda Wilson (Port Alberni Home Support, Port Alberni).

“Congratulations to our newly elected vice presidents. I am confident they will represent our members with passion and dedication,” said President Kim Novak. President Novak was elected by acclamation last month, along with Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. UFCW 1518 members elect their leaders, including the Recorder and Vice President positions every four years.

“I am humbled and honoured to continue to serve our 22,000 members across British Columbia and the Yukon,” said President Kim Novak. “As leaders of your union Patrick and I are committed to ensuring that our organization is strong, progressive and focused on building power in the units our members work in.”

Member engagement has emerged as President Novak’s focus since she and Secretary-Treasurer Johnson were elected by the Executive Board, following the retirement of former president, Ivan Limpright. “We will continue to meet members in their communities and units, to find out more about their workplace concerns and their needs as union members,” President Novak explained.

“We are moving forward with what we have committed to – more training seminars for members, improving our communication with members through email, telephone town halls and unit visits, continuing our Stewards Appreciation program in the Lower Mainland and increasing our presence across the province,” said Novak. “Next month we will be officially opening our new office in Kelowna and, along with our Executive Board, will be hosting our General Membership Meeting in Victoria. We are committed to hosting at least one General Membership Meeting in a region outside of the Lower Mainland once a year to ensure that we are connecting members directly with their leadership and providing more opportunities to participate in their union.”

Mill closures & job lost: In solidarity with Mackenzie

400 workers are off the job as three mills closed in the northern BC town of Mackenzie: that is nearly 10% of the community’s population. The mill shutdowns are the result of an economic downturn in BC’s forestry industry, which has also left many loggers and contractors out of work. As the unemployed workforce leaves town in search for jobs, other businesses and workers are also struggling.

Last Thursday, a rally was organized to draw attention to what many are calling a crisis in this small community. UFCW 1518 Executive Board member Nan Fredericks was one the organizers of the #MackenzieMatters rally, which had nearly 1,000 people marching in solidarity. The numbers showed an inspiring level of support in the close-knit community of about 3,300 people.

“We wanted to bring a spotlight to what is happening in small communities that are forestry-based towns like ours,” said Fredericks. “We wanted to bring attention to the government, because it’s not just the markets, there are several mitigating factors and something needs to be done.”

The event had the presence of many local unions, politicians, business owners and entire families. The rally is only the beginning of a bigger lobbying effort, said Fredericks. As residents fear job losses will continue, they are calling for more government intervention.

“Everything is connected, the grocery store, the hospital, the school. Everything is about the amount of people that work in an area and when their income is not there, everything starts to fall apart,” asserted Fredericks. “It’s like a domino effect. My own grocery store, we have had several layoffs because the business is not there anymore.”

UFCW 1518 stands in solidarity with the community of Mackenzie during this difficult time. Our union represents about 50 workers at the Mackenzie Co-op, who also see themselves are affected by these closures. Members of PPWC Local 18, Unifor 1092 and USW 1-2017 are also among the list of those now without a job.

“When workers lose their jobs, we hurt entire families, businesses and communities,” said President Kim Novak. “An initiative like the #MackenzieMatters campaign is what the labour movement is about: coming together to fight for fairness. That’s something we are proud to stand behind.”

Mail in your ballots today!

Voting is now open for the election of UFCW 1518 Executive Vice Presidents. President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson were elected by acclamation last month after nominations closed. Five of the 25 Vice President positions were contested and a mail-in secret ballot vote is now being conducted.

The following members are running in the election:

Vice President #4    Laura Cioplato, Yvette Oleson

Vice President #7    Virgilio Encarnacio, Lisa Leckie

Vice President #11   Danette Lankmayr, Rajiv Mehra

Vice President #20  David Diamond, Alouette Gosal

Vice President #25   Linda Wilson, Michelle Fedosoff

Ballots were mailed to members last week and will arrive via Canada Post this week. President Novak encouraged all members to fill in their ballots and return them in the postage paid envelopes provided. “It is imperative that our members exercise their right to vote in order to fulfill our commitment to being a democratic, member-led union. Casting your ballot and electing your leaders is an important way that members can have a say in the direction of the organization,” she said. “So I urge everyone send back their ballots!

Ballots must be received at Canada Post in Burnaby by noon on August 26 in order to be counted. Questions about the election process can be directed to Pablo Godoy, the election chairperson, at [email protected]

Many gains in new agreement for Fresh St. Market, Surrey

UFCW 1518 members working at Fresh St. Market in Surrey ratified a revised collective agreement last week by unanimous vote. The four-year deal feature significant wage improvements, including a start rate that is 40 cents above the minimum wage and climbs to $16.25 by 2023.

All members will be placed on the new wage grid based on their total hours from date of hire, including their career hours and hours credited for previous agreement. And the wage grid progression has been shortened by over 4160 hours, which means members earn more money more quickly. Add this to the ability to be scheduled up to 40 hours a week according to seniority, and members have even more financial opportunity in this agreement, she commented.

“This is a really strong contract and I’m proud of our members for this achievement,” said President Kim Novak. “When workers stand in solidarity, we are powerful and we can accomplish great things.”

The union also negotiated a health and welfare benefit package that is 100 percent employer paid, with new benefits including a drug card, massage, physiotherapy, dental and extended health coverage, among other benefits. All statutory leaves, such as compassionate care, family responsibility, were added and pregnancy and parental leaves were enhanced.  Other highlights of the deal include seniority-based job posting, work protection and more vacation.

President Novak thanked the bargaining committee, made up of members Breanna Gillmor and Bryana McConnell, assisted by director Kim Balmer and union representative Ronda Melbourne.