UFCW 1518 Cannabis Family Grows with New Contract at Potanicals

UFCW 1518 crossed a new milestone today as workers at Potanicals Green Growers joined the union and ratified their first collective agreement. Following a unanimous vote to ratify the new contract, Potanicals has become the first cannabis growing operation and extraction facility to unionize in Canada.

Workers at the medical cannabis growing and processing facility reached out to the union last year to learn more about becoming part of the BC BUD division of UFCW 1518. The unit began negotiations for their new collective agreement in March.

“Our BC BUD division keeps growing because cannabis industry workers know their value and the power they can wield when they work together,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “I’m proud to welcome them to their union and to help them fight for more improvements in the workplace.”

Some highlights of the new collective agreement include:

  • An established, contract-backed grievance procedure for solving problems that arise in the workplace
  • A new, clear wage scale with progression based on the number of hours an employee works
  • Five (5) guaranteed paid sick days per year so no one feels pressured to come to work sick

Workers at Potanicals Green Growers can learn more about their collective agreement by watching their email inbox or contacting their union representative.

Cannabis workers interested in joining the BC BUD division of UFCW 1518 and fighting for fairness in the workplace can learn more at ufcw1518.com/cannabis.

COVID-19 Front-Line Vaccination Update

Today, the Province of British Columbia announced that they have temporarily paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Front-line workers were recently granted early access to COVID-19 vaccines. As the government has paused the AstraZeneca vaccine, the timeline for early vaccination may be temporarily slowed. We have been assured that front-line workers will be given the Pfizer vaccine in the meantime.

If you have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and are worried about your health, please know that the risk of an adverse effect is extremely low. There have been no reported blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada, and health authorities do not think we will see any cases in British Columbia. If you received the vaccine more than 20 days ago, there is no further risk.

We know that many UFCW 1518 members will be disappointed that there may be delays in receiving their vaccination. Your union will continue to advocate that you have the strongest layers of protection in the workplace, and we will update you when we know more about any impacts on the early vaccination timeline.

Circuit-breaker Restrictions

The province also announced new “circuit-breaker” restrictions today. Until April 19, indoor dining has been suspended in restaurants and bars. We know that this restriction will put extra pressure on grocery and retail stores as more people dine at home. That is why we will continue to pressure employers to reinstate Pandemic Premium pay for front-line workers in grocery, retail, and cannabis settings.

UFCW 1518 also continues to call on the public to remain vigilant about COVID-19 and do their part to protect front-line workers by staying home if they feel sick, wearing masks while shopping, and keeping their distance in stores.

UFCW 1518 Stands against Anti-Asian Racism

UFCW 1518 is shocked and disgusted by the murder of eight people, including six Asian women, in Atlanta yesterday. This violent, racist, and misogynist act happened because of the increase in anti-Asian rhetoric stirred up by former President Donald Trump. While Trump made the situation worse, he did not originate it – anti-Asian racism has been a feature in North America for more than a century, and it is a shameful legacy that no progressive organization should tolerate.

UFCW 1518 unequivocally renounces ant-Asian and anti-immigrant racism, misogyny, and anti-sex worker sentiment. We stand in solidarity with and pledge our ongoing support to those who have experienced the manifold, intersectional traumas inflicted by an unequal society.

We know that acts of racism and violence against Asian Canadians have increased during COVID-19, but that they are nothing new. The Asian Canadian community has contributed extraordinary things to our country while simultaneously facing systemic discrimination, violence, and inequality. Some of these systemic forms of discrimination in Canadian history include the Chinese Exclusion Head Tax and the internment of Japanese people during World War II.

There are many concrete steps that can be taken to address anti-Asian racism. These include:

For our part, UFCW 1518 commits to continuing to fight back against anti-Asian racism in our community and in our union. That includes working to increase diversity in all ranks of our union, promoting events like Human Rights Week and other opportunities to educate members about anti-racism, and partnering with peer organizations that work to promote anti-racist causes.

Grocery Store Workers to Receive Early Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

Today, the provincial government announced that front-line workers in grocery stores will have early access to COVID-19 vaccines.

UFCW 1518 has been advocating since January for early vaccination for front-line workers in grocery stores, industrial food plants, and pharmacies.

“We are pleased to hear the announcement made today by Premier Horgan that our members in grocery stores will have priority access to vaccines as another important layer of protection against COVID-19,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “Our members in grocery stores are working in spaces that have a higher rate of exposures, so having early access to the vaccine not only helps to protect them at work but also their families and the thousands of people of the public that they interact with in stores every month.”

Premier John Horgan announced that over 300,000 workers will be eligible for early access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including people who work in grocery stores, wholesale and warehouses, and many other front-line settings.

Many grocery stores are ideally suited to on-site vaccination clinics through their pharmacy departments. Where possible, these pharmacies will hold worker-only clinics, so employees can get vaccinated as part of their regular workday.

However, where on-site vaccination clinics are not feasible, UFCW 1518 will continue to advocate that front-line workers receive four uninterrupted hours off work to attend their appointment so that they do not have to choose between being paid or getting their first dose of the vaccine.

Many of our members in Community Health and food processing plants have received their first dose of the vaccine at on-site clinics and we have seen upwards of 95% of workers at worksites being vaccinated as a result. UFCW 1518 reported these findings at consultations held with the government and health authorities to speed up vaccinations. Therefore, we are pleased to hear that the government will be creating special on-site clinics wherever possible to remove barriers to vaccination for front-line workers.

UFCW 1518 will keep members updated with any information about COVID-19 vaccines as it becomes available. If you are a member and are not receiving emails from UFCW 1518, please email [email protected] to update your contact information.

UFCW 1518 Calls on Boston Pizza to Reverse its Sexist Skirt Policy

Female servers and hosts at a Boston Pizza in New Westminster are fighting back against a sexist policy requiring them to wear skirts at work.

“Boston Pizza franchise owners have implemented a “skirt policy” that is not only sexist, it objectifies women in their workplace,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “This policy needs to end now. And we are calling on Boston Pizza to ensure that none of their locations ever institutes sexist dress code policies again.”

Several workers at the location reached out to UFCW 1518 about the skirt policy. They had attempted to resolve the dress code issue themselves by bringing it up with restaurant management, but their requests were ignored.

On Thursday, March 11, UFCW 1518 reached out to Boston Pizza to ask that he rescind the sexist policy immediately. The owner has not taken any action to indicate that he would change the dress code or meet any of the workers’ reasonable demands.

The workers at this Boston Pizza location are moving forward with a union drive in response to their many issues at work. They will be voting on joining UFCW 1518 this week.

UFCW 1518 represents thousands of workers in the service industry, and often takes uniform and dress code issues to the bargaining table. Recently, workers at Clarity Cannabis won the right to have a say in the design of their uniforms when they ratified their first collective agreement.

Service industry workers interested in winning better working conditions and more respect can learn more about joining a union at ufcw1518.com/join-us

UFCW 1518 calls for front-line workers to have time off to receive COVID-19 vaccines

As vaccination efforts ramp up in British Columbia, UFCW 1518 is calling on the provincial government to ensure that front-line workers have the right to take four uninterrupted hours off work when they receive a vaccination appointment.

The proposal is based on the four hours that workers are entitled to take off in order to vote on election day or in advanced polls. This law helps to preserve free and fair elections in Canada by ensuring that no one misses the chance to vote if they cannot get time off work.

UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak sent a letter to Labour Minister Harry Bains and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Tuesday asking them to grant front-line workers the right to four uninterrupted hours off work so they are able to receive their COVID-19 vaccine when the time comes for their appointment. It also asks that the government institute an order that prevents employers from retaliating against any worker that takes time off to get vaccinated.

“Front-line workers in retail, grocery, and industrial food processing environments may not be able to take regular time off in the short turnaround between becoming eligible for a vaccine and receiving an appointment,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “We’re asking the government to step in to prevent logistical barriers to vaccination for front-line workers. That means if a front-line worker is scheduled to work on the day they have their vaccination appointment, they should be given the time off work that they need to attend.”

In January, UFCW 1518 asked the Provincial Government to ensure that front-line workers in grocery, retail, community health and home care, and industrial food processing be given early access to COVID-19 vaccines once the most vulnerable populations have been vaccinated. Many workers in community health and home care have been receiving these early vaccinations, helping them to continue supporting elderly and vulnerable British Columbians in their homes.

Phase 3 of the BC COVID-19 vaccination plan makes front-line workers eligible to receive the vaccine ahead of their age group when extra doses are available.

UFCW 1518 members have been helping to flatten the curve in their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. UFCW 1518 will continue to advocate for these workers to be given every protection against COVID-19.


Colonial Farms Workers Ratify Five Year Agreement with Major Wage Increases

UFCW 1518 members at Colonial Farms in Armstrong, B.C. have ratified a five-year collective agreement that features major wage and workplace improvements.

The Bargaining Committee, consisting of workers William Maw and Kelly Burden and lead negotiator Shari Jensen, fought hard for major wage increases and other member-driven bargaining proposals.

The new contract has several important changes. Some highlights include:

  • Percentage based wage increases each year.
    • 2021: 3.25%
    • 2022: 2%
    • 2023: 2%
    • 2024: 2%
    • 2025: 2.25%
  • A 3.25% raise retroactive to October 1, 2020.
  • Increases to pension contributions.
  • Increases to off-shift premiums.
  • An increase to the boot allowance.
  • Benefit qualification cut down by one-half (down to 2,080 hours instead of 5,300 hours).

A strong majority of the workers at Colonial Farms voted in the new agreement on March 4.

“Colonial Farms workers have been helping to keep their community fed throughout the COVID-19 crisis,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “This new contract recognizes their essential role and the value they bring to their work every day.”

Workers in industrial food processing who are interested in joining a union and fighting for fairness can learn more about UFCW 1518 at ufcw1518.com/join-us.