Uber and UFCW Reach Historic Agreement on Driver Representation

UFCW Canada and Uber reached a historic agreement today that will give more than 100,000 Uber and Uber Eats drivers in Canada strong representation at work. The agreement is a huge step forward in gig worker rights that will advance worker safety, pay transparency, and access to benefits.

This agreement comes after six Uber drivers in BC spoke out about being deactivated from the Uber app when they refused unsafe work. Hundreds of Uber drivers came forward to UFCW 1518 in the weeks that followed, and UFCW 1518 has been organizing these workers and pursuing justice for them. These six drivers now have a formal date on February 24 to have their cases heard.

The new agreement will ensure that no driver faces reprisals for exercising their right to bring forward issues at work. It will build a strong framework of health and safety in app-based work and set a new precedent in an industry that has been growing every year.

“We have been fighting for gig worker rights in the new economy for years,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “For too long, gig work has been a race to the bottom for these workers, who have endured lower wages, unsafe working conditions, and arbitrary firings. Today’s agreement means that we can set a new, higher standard for worker rights in the app-based work world.”

The national agreement will see UFCW Canada become the first union in the world to represent Uber drivers. Workers on the app-based platform will have access to:

  • a strong voice at work when issues arise
  • representation for deactivation and account disputes
  • joint health and safety meetings, with a committee consisting of Uber drivers, UFCW Canada, and Uber representatives
  • representation for day-to-day on the job issues
  • quarterly meetings with senior Uber management to discuss and resolve concerns

UFCW Canada will provide representation to Uber drivers and delivery workers and will continue to organize other app-based workers to join a union and gain the benefits of collective bargaining. App-based workers can learn about how joining a union will give them even more power at work at ufcw1518.com/join-us.

For more information on the historic 5-year agreement, go to ufcw.ca

UFCW 1518 Calls on Victoria City Council to Protect Budtenders

UFCW 1518 is calling on Victoria Council to protect budtenders as the city considers amending the bylaws that govern cannabis dispensaries. The city is considering changing the law that requires two (2) staff members to be onsite during all operating hours.

Staff who work alone in retail stores experience more violence, harassment, threats, and abusive behaviour from customers. Workers who deal with cash are at even higher risk when working alone, particularly at night.

Budtenders in Victoria have reported regular incidences of hostile, threatening and dangerous interactions with customers throughout the City of Victoria. These workers are concerned that these incidences could increase or escalate if budtenders are forced to work alone.

UFCW 1518 has sent a letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and to city Councillors asking them to ensure that modernized cannabis retail regulations require at least two (2) staff members while stores are open.

Members of the BC Budtenders Union (a division of UFCW 1518) have the right to collectively negotiate minimum staffing levels into their contracts. The union is concerned that non-unionized budtenders will be put at risk if the bylaws change to allow managers to schedule budtenders to work alone.

If you are a budtender and would like to learn more about how joining a union can improve health & safety at work, go to ufcw1518.com/cannabis.

Workers at Cineplex Richmond Join UFCW 1518

UFCW 1518 welcomed workers at Cineplex Richmond to the union family today!

The workers at the Richmond location voted overwhelmingly to join UFCW 1518 and start building a better, more equitable workplace.

“The young workers at Cineplex Richmond inspired us with their solidarity through this difficult time,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “These workers have dealt with nearly two years of non-stop uncertainty as Cineplex closed and reopened with various restrictions. They show the collective power of workers, even in a traditionally precarious workplace.”

Workers at Cineplex Richmond will join fellow union members at Cineplex Coquitlam, who reached out to UFCW 1518 in 2019. Workers at the Coquitlam location have been bargaining throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working on several important bargaining priorities that will improve their working conditions and quality of life.

Across Canada, workers in various customer-service locations have been turning to unions to build their power at work. These workers are coming to realize the power that they wield when they stand together. They are using collective bargaining to fight for significant improvement in wages, benefits, hours, and health and safety conditions.

Cineplex worker Adrian Owen was jubilant at the union win and had this to say about the successful campaign: “It was a long trip but I’m glad it finally worked out in favour of workers’ rights.”

Congratulations to the workers at Cineplex Richmond on your successful union vote, and welcome to UFCW 1518!

If you want to improve your working conditions and fight for fairness, go to our Join Us page and contact an organizer today.

UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee Calls on the Government to Mandate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a Statutory Holiday

The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee is calling on the provincial and federal governments to mandate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday for all workers.

The Indigenous Committee, made up of five passionate UFCW 1518 member activists from different Indigenous communities, wrote a letter to BC Premier John Horgan, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, BC Members of the Legislative Assembly, BC Members of Parliament and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, urging them to mandate National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday by September 30, 2022. 

Last year, the federal and provincial governments both fell short of declaring a statutory holiday for all workers on September 30, leaving the decision over whether to grant the holiday up to individual businesses. Some businesses recognized the holiday while the majority chose not to, including the nation’s largest grocery chains.

“How is Truth and Reconciliation Day to become more than a trendy new fad to pay lip service to if BC employers, operating on unceded lands in all communities across this province, are not mandated and legislated to take this day seriously,” asked Christine Holowka, one of the Indigenous Committee members who wrote the letter.

On a day that is supposed to honour truth and reconciliation, the union and the Committee are concerned that many Indigenous people will not be able to take the time off to observe the ceremonies held by their communities. The Committee is bringing urgency to this issue so that Indigenous workers can take the time to heal from the irrevocable harm inflicted on survivors, their families and communities, and to mourn and remember those who did not come home from residential schools.

In addition to the letters, a petition has been set up to provide an avenue for members and allies to add their voices. The Committee hopes to see the government take action to ensure that every Indigenous worker can take the time to heal and address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools. 

You can read a copy of the letter here.  To take action and be a part of this important initiative, you can sign the petition by clicking here.

Workers at Bulkley Valley Wholesale Ratified New Contract

Workers at Bulkley Valley Wholesale in Smithers, British Columbia, recently ratified their new contract containing major improvements.

Bulkley Valley Wholesale workers won: 

  1. lump sums as well as off-scale increases for anyone not on the food clerk wage scale
  2. new wage scale for food clerk with significant increases
  3. improvement in vacation entitlement and receiving pay at time of vacation for PT

Members of the bargaining committee, Brian Arnot and Dave Higgins, did outstanding work on this agreement. They achieved great results for the members thanks to the workers’ collective voices and the work of the bargaining committee.

The full terms of the new contract will be available at memberresourcecentre.com/knowledge-base/collective-agreements as soon as the contract is finalized.

Congratulations to the workers at Bulkley Valley Wholesale on their new contract!

Learn more at ufcw1518.com/join-us if you’re interested in joining a union and fighting for improved wages and working conditions.

UFCW 1518 Calls on Retail Employers to Increase Safety Protocols & Pay Bonuses

UFCW 1518 is calling on all retail employers to increase safety protocols and pay bonuses to front-line workers as the Omicron variant surges across British Columbia.

The union has observed a nearly tenfold increase in reported workplace COVID-19 exposures over the last week. The increasing case numbers are putting even more pressure on retail workers. These workers are struggling to keep up with customer demand while staffing numbers dwindle. Delays and a lack of available testing likely mean that these numbers are significantly higher.

“The strain on retail workers, who have been working through the ever-evolving circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly two years, is now reaching a new level of challenge that cannot be ignored,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “Our members are having to work two to three times as hard to cover for co-workers who are in self-isolation or are away from the workplace due to illness. They deserve extra compensation in recognition of their extra work.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Bonnie Henry implored businesses to prepare for the Omicron wave. She stated that “as many as one-third of a workforce might be ill and forced to stay away.”

Union Fights for Stronger Safety Measures

Over the last two years, UFCW 1518 has been successfully campaigning for many COVID-19 safety measures, including:

  • creating a province-wide mask mandate
  • legislating 3 hours of protected paid leave for vaccinations
  • instituting enhanced safety protocols in stores

Many of the workplaces UFCW 1518 represents are limiting customer numbers, providing medical masks, and taking measures to prevent crowding.

Unfortunately, this is not the case in every workplace. Many union members and non-union workers have reported that customer mask-wearing and social distancing have declined. 

Multiple workers have told the union that management has made them feel responsible for enforcing COVID-19 protocols like masking and crowd management. At the same time, many have observed that management has not monitored or limited the number of people allowed into stores.  

“It’s completely unacceptable that any retail worker is made to feel that they are the ones to enforce public health measures,” said Novak. “We continue to advise UFCW 1518 members that they have the right to refuse unsafe work if there are unmasked customers.”

Union Members Seeking Bonuses, Better Safety Enforcement

On January 5, UFCW 1518 sent letters to several major retailers asking them to take important steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. These include:

  • Enforcing public health orders around mandatory masks in indoor spaces and using markers and enforcement for physical distancing
  • Actively counting the number of customers in stores and limiting to 50% normal capacity
  • Reinstating enhanced cleaning measures in stores
  • Providing all employees appropriate PPE including 3-layer surgical masks
  • Paying bonuses to employees working during the Omicron wave of the pandemic

While many stores have already instituted these measures, other retail locations have been more inconsistent. If you work at a UFCW 1518 represented worksite and have health and safety concerns, contact your Shop Steward or Union Representative. Email [email protected] if you do not know who your Shop Steward or Union Representative is.

If you work at a non-union store and need support, learn more about the union advantage at ufcw1518.com/join-us.

Click here to read the letter UFCW 1518 sent to major retailers.