BREAKING NEWS: Mark Brown Rules in Favour of UFCW 1518 in First Stage of Arbitration with Sobeys

We have good news to share with Safeway members: Arbitrator Mark Brown ruled in favour of UFCW 1518 in the first stage of the arbitration case with Sobeys. Arbitrator Brown agreed with UFCW 1518 that Sobeys only has to make a profit over a 12 month period, paving the way for more stores in Appendix B to move to Appendix A.

This ruling is a crucial step to getting wages and benefits like ATOs and funding for Grid B benefits restored for our members at Appendix B Safeway stores. The next step will be reviewing Sobey’s financial records in each Appendix B store to determine which stores are profitable.

“We welcome Arbitrator Brown’s ruling on this matter,” said President Kim Novak. “This is a big win for our Safeway members and a big step towards restoring their hard-earned wages and benefits. Our members have been very patient throughout this process and we look forward to finalizing it, and bringing good news to them, as soon as possible.”

We will follow up with more details as we have them. We are currently in the process of booking meeting dates for a financial review as well as additional hearing dates with Arbitrator Brown so we can keep advancing our case. Keep an eye on your inbox for more information or get in touch with your Union Representative.

Arbitration Hearing Held Today – Defining Profitable Year

Today, Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, UFCW 1518 Executive Board and Safeway member Bob Milan, and President Kim Novak attended a meeting with Arbitrator Mark Brown and representatives from Sobeys.

This arbitration meeting was an important next step after mediation meetings between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys stalled in May around the definition of “maintain profitable year” as it pertains to Sobeys locations on Appendix B.

In May, UFCW 1518 and senior accountants from PWC reviewed financial statements from Sobeys. Based on the review of these financial documents, the union believes that many of these stores are making money and maintained a profitable year.

At today’s hearing, UFCW 1518’s legal counsel Chris Buchanan presented the union’s case. In summary, the union argued that if a store under Appendix B has made any money over a rolling 12 months, it has met the requirement of “maintaining a profitable year” and should be moved to Appendix A. Additionally, the union is seeking retroactivity for members’ wages and benefits back to the date the Appendix B stores are determined to have met the test of maintaining a profitable year.

Legal counsel for Sobeys argued that for an Appendix B store to meet the “profitability test” it must be profitable every month for a full year and it must exceed an unstated level of profitability.

Once Arbitrator Brown issues a decision on the definition of a profitable year, the parties will need to reconvene with Arbitrator Brown to review detailed financial information for all Appendix B stores. This will determine which stores meet the definition of a profitable year to move off of Appendix B – which for UFCW 1518 members means the reinstatement of wages, ATOs, and more.

The union is in the process of booking additional dates with Arbitrator Brown. Members who would like more information about the arbitration process can contact UFCW 1518 at [email protected]

UFCW 1518 Condemns Act of Racist Vandalism against shíshálh Nation

UFCW 1518 joins the shíshálh Nation in condemning acts of vandalism that recently occurred on the Sunshine Coast. On July 7, an unknown person hung a banner threatening to cut down two totem poles at Pender Harbour School. A highway sign containing shíshálh language was also vandalized.

The Pender Harbour school and the sign both stand on the unceded territory of the shíshálh people.

“This overtly racist act shows that we still have a lot of work to do in decolonizing our province, fighting systemic racism, and building towards reconciliation,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “As a union, we will continue to stand up for Indigenous communities and work to dismantle racism in our province and elsewhere.”

UFCW 1518 is committed to increasing Indigenous representation in our union, advocating for our members of Indigenous descent, and fighting the systemic racism that they encounter in the workplace and elsewhere. Our efforts to decolonize the union and combat racism are a work in progress and include speaking out against anti-black and anti-Indigenous police violence, supporting the efforts of Black Lives Matter and Indigenous organizations, promoting National Indigenous Peoples Day and Indigenous History Month, and supporting the work of the UFCW National Indigenous Sub-Committee.

Here is the full statement from the shíshálh Nation:

shíshálh Nation Rejects and Condemns Racist Vandalism and Applauds Community Outpouring of Support for Reconciliation on the Sunshine Coast

Sechelt, BC – On July 7 there were two acts of racist anti-Indigenous vandalism on the Sunshine Coast. A large banner was hung across two totem poles at the Pender Harbour School that read “IF U TOUCH George/Stanley/John A UR Totem’s will start Falling” (see photo below). As well, the word “conquered” was painted on a highway sign containing shíshálh language. The RCMP have been contacted and are investigating.

“Our Nation members are saddened and upset by these most recent acts of racism,” said hiwus (Chief) Warren Paull. “Of course, we are not surprised. Racism exists here on the Sunshine Coast, as it does elsewhere. And as always, racism will be confronted for what it is – as an expression of ignorance and hate that must be completely rejected in all forms.”

Since news of these racist incidents began circulating, shíshálh Nation has received an outpouring of support from neighbours, residents, and others across British Columbia. “This is the most heartening thing,” said Councillor Selina August. “While we woke up today to hurtful news of racist incidents, we are also met with the love, support, and generosity of British Columbians from all walks of life who wish to see true reconciliation become the reality across this country. So our message today is one of thanks, to all those countless British Columbians who see racism for what it is, call it out, and are ready to do the on-going work of improving our communities, province, country, and world.”

Nicholas Simons, MLA for Powell River – Sunshine Coast adds: ” I join the shíshálh Nation in condemning these hurtful, racist incidents. There is no excuse for such hateful thoughts, and no place for words, or actions like this on the Sunshine Coast or anywhere. Residents of the Sunshine Coast reject racism and overwhelmingly support the work that individuals, communities, and British Columbians are doing to build greater understanding, inclusiveness, and equality—including the essential work of reconciliation.”

Workers at Lifestyle Markets Win Big!

Workers at Lifestyle Markets in Victoria achieved a huge victory last week after voting in their first collective agreement.

The ratification vote comes after the staff spent months organizing, negotiating, and taking bold action to build worker power at the store.

The workers first began looking for solutions to problems at their workplace in late 2019. They contacted the Retail Action Network (RAN) in Victoria for help, a community group that advocates for local retail workers. RAN put the workers in contact with UFCW 1518. The union immediately began supporting the workers in their fight to build power and demand respect and accountability. Lifestyle workers voted to join our union in February 2020, becoming the first grocery store to unionize in Victoria in decades.

COVID-19 struck while UFCW 1518 was in the process of negotiating the workers’ first collective agreement. While many grocery workers across the country were given Pandemic Pay in recognition of the essential work they were doing, workers at Lifestyle received no such additional pay. The workers and community members fought back and put considerable pressure on Lifestyle Markets to fairly compensate the workers during this crisis. Finally, now that collective agreement is in place, these workers will be receiving this much-deserved recognition.

Negotiations wrapped up in July, and the collective agreement was put to a vote. The workers ratified the agreement unanimously, ushering in a new era of respect in the workplace. Some highlights of the agreement include:

  • Hazard Pay retroactive to March 8, 2020
  • The workers’ first-ever Benefits Package including health, extended care, prescription drug coverage, and dental benefits
  • Paid Sick Days so no one has to choose between their health and their pocketbooks
  • Enhanced Paid Vacation
  • Up to a 30% wage increase over the life of the contract
  • Harassment and Bullying Protections
  • A Joint Labour Management board to ensure workers have a voice
  • 40% of positions must be full-time
  • A Retroactive Bonus
  • Third-party Education and Training
  • A Holiday Bonus
  • 20% Store Discount

“We’re encouraged to see what can happen when people act collectively,” said Keira Zikmanis, Employee and Bargaining Committee Member. “Now that we have a contract in place, workers will be paid the hazard pay they deserve, move closer towards a living wage, and have the protections we need to make this store a fair and equitable place to work.”

“We were so inspired by how the workers at Lifestyle Markets stood up for themselves and built worker power,” added UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “We were happy to support them on their journey to building a more respectful workplace. That’s what we’re here for, and we want other workers to know that we can help them to do the same thing that the staff at Lifestyle did.”

Lifestyle workers stood up for themselves, fought for fairness, and won big. They stand out as an example of the power workers have and what they can accomplish with the help of a union.