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Source Office Furniture Ratifies New Contract

UFCW 1518 members employed with Source Office Furniture have ratified a new collective agreement thanks to the support members showed for their elected bargaining team. For the next three years, staff at the Vancouver store will benefit from several improvements to their working conditions.

Their monetary wins include:

  1. Wage Increases of 2.5% in years 1, 2 & 3.
  2. Increase in Forklift Trainer Premium from $1.00 to $1.50 per hour
  3. Increase in First Aid Premium from $20.00 to $30.00 per week
  4. Increase in Island Meal Allowance from $20.00 to $30.00
  5. Increase in Safety Footwear from $150.00 to $200.00 annually
  6. Increased Bereavement Leave

More and more retail workers are joining UFCW 1518 in the wake of COVID-19 to seek recognition for their specialized knowledge and to gain real protections in return for serving the public under challenging conditions. Do you work in a store and want to know how you and your coworkers can advocate for yourselves? Contact us at [email protected].

It’s Been a Year of Firsts for UFCW 1518

This year was all about breaking barriers. In 2022, UFCW 1518 organized in under-represented industries, built platforms for youth to speak up, and lobbied for ground-breaking legislation.  At the same time, we continued to build capacity in communities and workplaces where our members have been wielding their union power for years. As we near the end of 2022, we look back on the awesome and inspiring things you did.

cannabis mobilizing

The cannabis industry is no longer green territory for 1518. Budtenders represent the fastest-growing arm of the union. Here’s a rundown of the workers who have joined the BC Budtenders Union and launched an impressive grassroots movement:

  • Eggs Canna (Vancouver) joined UFCW 1518 and began bargaining for their first contract.
  • Seed & Stone (Delta) joined UFCW 1518 and won a common employer application that allowed them to join two other groups of Seed & Stone staff from the island at the bargaining table. Together they won wage improvements, a grievance procedure and more.
  • Yaletown Cannabis (Vancouver) joined UFCW 1518.
  • Burnside Buds (Victoria) workers ratify their contract.
  • Trees Cannabis (Victoria) ratified their first collective agreement, which features living wage adjustment language.
  • Potanicals Grow-Op.
  • Clarity Cannabis.
  • The Original Farm.

Advancing reconciliation

The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee continued to push the BC and Yukon governments to recognize National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a paid, statutory holiday for all workers. Here are the actions they took and the response they received:

  • March: Committee member Marylou Fonda meets with Minister for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Murray Rankin and sits on a panel as a survivor of the Sixties Scoop. During the meeting, she shared the Committee’s petition with officials.
  • The Committee participated in a ceremony at the unmarked graves of former Residential School children on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.
  • February: After writing letters to provincial politicians, the Indigenous Committee received commitments from MLAs Aman Singh and Brittny Anderson to support their National Day for Truth and Reconciliation initiative.
  • BC consulted stakeholders on the best way to honour Sept. 30. The Committee shores up interest among membership to submit feedback and call for a paid, statutory holiday for all workers.
  • After a lot of hard work on the part of activists, the Yukon government announced that it is making National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a provincially recognized paid stat.
  • On Nov. 16, at the UFCW 1518 Retail Conference, Committee member Anita Letendre asked guest speaker Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, for a commitment from the NDP to make Sept. 30 a paid, statutory holiday. He promised that the government was working on it.
  • November: The Indigenous Committee presented their petition to the new BC Premier, David Eby, and the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women (MACIW).
If you are able to donate this holiday season, consider giving to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

AdVOCACY

  • UFCW 1518 successfully challenged Save-On-Foods on its decision to withhold Cost-of-living top-ups from staff who are covered under the current COL contract language.
  • Arbitration hearings continued for the policy grievance that our union filed against Save-On-Foods when both companies provided $3 premiums to only a handful of staff. UFCW 1518 is arguing that all members should receive the premium.
  • Members at FreshCo are still awaiting a Labour Board decision on the common employer status for the stores. We are fighting for all FreshCo workers to bargain their contract collectively.

YOUNG WORKERS RISING

Most of our newest members who joined us in 2022 are under 30 years old, and some are even teens! Here’s a look at the power young workers built with 1518 this year: 

  • Employees at Sephora organized with UFCW 1518. At the bargaining table, they’ve been fighting for part-timer flexibility, quality benefits, and more equitable compensation that reflects their expertise.
  • Workers at three Cineplex theatres in the lower mainland secured their first collective agreement, ushering in important provisions, such as student leave, a grievance procedure, two Great Escape Vouchers and more.
  • Students at UBC led an organizing drive at the campus grocery store. Together they’re committed to restoring the shop’s “by students, for students” model by pushing for fairer pay and staffing policies

Preparing for the Food Fight Ahead

  • Sobeys and Save-On-Foods workers joined a session of in-person focus groups to narrow in on the issues that they face. Together, workers brainstormed possible solutions in preparation for upcoming bargaining. Leadership heard from both new (non-Grid A) and senior (Grid A) members to help build common ground.
  • Hundreds of members from across the province and across grocery banners meet for the Retail Conference to prepare for bargaining in 2023. Members dialogued, built solidarity and attended workshops to build union presence and democracy in their respective stores in preparation for the big year ahead.
  • Thousands of Sobeys and Save-On-Foods members have already start filling out their bargaining surveys. If you haven’t filled your surveys out yet, you can access them by clicking the buttons below:
Grocery workers build capacity in stores and at the 2022 Retail Conference

Events

  • Chief Stewards and EBoard members from the food processing and warehouse sector join UFCW delegates from across the country for the two-day National Defense Fund conference in Vancouver. 
  • Members attended the BC Federation of Labour Convention as delegates.
  • UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak showed support for the BCGEU public-service strike and visited picketing members at the Delta Liquor Distribution Centre.
UFCW 1518 members at the BC Federation of Labour Convention
UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak visits striking BCGEU members.

parity for healthcare workers

  • UFCW 1518 Community Health Workers continue to bargain with the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), side-by-side with several other healthcare unions.
  • The workers’ bargaining association set a clear mandate: parity with their Facilities co-workers or no deal.
  • UFCW 1518 published joint ads with other unions calling for fairness for public sector employees.
  • Bargaining hit a wall in November. Members started building capacity by sending their contact information to their bargaining team and talking about the possibility of a strike vote.
  • The employer blinked and set bargaining dates in January. Members will continue to push for parity, which must include an injection of money into their Benefits Trust Fund and significant improvements to the structure of the Trust.

Ratifications - New and Improved 1518 contracts

Since January, we’ve ratified agreements at several other bargaining tables. Here’s the full list with a few highlights. 

  • AIL
  • Boston Pizza
  • Buy Low & West Coast produce 
  • Burnside Buds
  • Bulkley Valley Wholesale
  • Canadian Tire
  • Cowichan Tribes (Features important protections against bullying and harassment as well as favouritism)
  • C&W Facility Service Canada 
  • IGAs 
  • Johnston’s Packers
  • Northmount Pharmacy
  • Mackenzie Co-op 
  • Riviana
  • Shoppers Wholesale
  • Sointula Coop (Features wage increases between 8.3% and 30% over the life of the agreement.)
  • Source Office Furniture 
  • Sunrise Poultry (On top of improved access to time off, Sunrise workers raised the bar for wages in the poultry industry)
  • Sofina Foods 
  • Trees Cannabis: Learn more about this impressive living wage agreement here.
  • Urban Fare 
  • Yukon Save-On-Foods

charging into 2023

This past year, inequities grew and BC became even more unaffordable; at this time this sparked a fire in workers, who are organizing to bring fairness back into their workplaces and their province.

We couldn’t be prouder of our members who are working together, building community, and servicing their communities to make BC fairer. You’ve put a lot of passion into your work and breathed life into your union. As we move forward into the new year, we want everyone to take a moment and reflect on all the amazing things you’ve done in 2022.

We hope you are enjoying the season safely with your loved ones and that you are staying healthy.

Happy holidays!

In solidarity,

Kim Novak
President, UFCW 1518
& Patrick Johnson
Secretary-Treasurer, UFCW 1518

Yukon Save-On-Foods Ratifies Reopener Contract

Reopener ends with a successful ratification

Grocery workers employed at the sole Save-On-Foods in the Yukon secured significant improvements to their working conditions last week, after concluding a contract reopener with the west-coast grocer.

This is the first reopener since the contract was first established and included big gains: 

  • Significant Wage increases for all staff, including:
    • A big bump to starting rates
    • Increases to top rates for part-time and full-time workers
    • A new and improved wage grid for pharmacy assistants
    • A single wage grid for all employees
  • Improvements to vacation.
  • Night shift premium ($2.50)
  • Options for lunch breaks (either 30 minutes or 60 minutes)

Established a pathway to cross classification so employees are able to work across areas and capture more hours. 

As more and more UFCW 1518 collective agreements near expiry, workers at major grocers across the mainland and the Island are building capacity. At Save-On-Foods stores in BC, staff are working together and completing their bargaining surveys, where they are telling the employer what they need in their respective communities to make grocery jobs better and fairer.

Unionized Cannabis is Not Just a Phase

Latest BC Budtenders contract shows how the green movement has matured 

When the frontline budtenders at Seed & Stone ratified their first collective agreement last week, they didn’t just introduce impressive wage increases and improvements to one store. They brought radical change to three stores! As a result, all workers, present and future, who pass through their doors from here on, will benefit from this deal, which they can continue to improve in subsequent rounds of negotiations.

Some of the significant wins in the agreement include:

  • Higher starting rates (an increase of about 15%) 
  • Hourly scale with guaranteed wage increases
  • Improvements to breaks and scheduling
  • A grievance process and shop-steward language

One staff member, who was a leading voice in the first Seed & Stone organizing drive (at the Victoria Fort Street location), credits their incredible contract to the diversity of voices at the table. He said it was a big “morale boost” when the workers from the Delta location joined the union and sat with them at the bargaining table.

“They came to the table with their own energy and their own solidarity,” he says, “which kind of decentralized our movement and made things more threatening for the company and easier, from a solidarity standpoint, knowing that we were independently on the same page.”

By combining forces, workers from the Fort St., Gordon St., and Delta locations maximized their power. But this consolidation only worked because of the mobilizing that each store had done on its own prior to bargaining. In this way, The BC Budtenders Union, while still relatively young, is returning the labour movement to its roots. By decentralizing power, they’ve strengthened their unity and crystalized shared goals.

This power is evidenced in the high engagement at these shops. More dialogue and idea-sharing from everyone fosters community consciousness. What will raise everyone up, equally? This question was at the heart of the Delta organizing drive.

“What personally kept me going was the fact that many of my coworkers depend on this job to be able to afford food, housing, pay bills etc.,” says one member on the mainland. “Seeing how hard each of them work day in and out, I knew we needed things to change.”

Survival instincts often kickstart organizing drives. However, with widespread unionizing, workers can attain the resources that they need to push for more than the bare minimum (and win). One Seed & Stone budtender, who sat on the bargaining team, calls this phenomenon the “leapfrog effect.”

When a new worksite negotiates a contract, “we don’t get a lap around everyone but a few more steps [ahead],” the worker says. “Then the next contract, for either us or another company, gets a few more steps, and with more and more staff who are actualized, activated, and caring about their rights, organizing, and agitating…the quicker we’re all going to improve our industry.”


This change isn’t just theory. It’s happening. Almost three-quarters of the private cannabis retail shops in Victoria are unionized, and now that the Seed & Stone deal is complete, all boast a worker-centric collective agreement – each one better than the next.


Now that the workers at Seed & Stone have a deal with their employer, the next phase of their mobilizing begins. As one budtender puts it, “A contract is great, but it really takes them getting to know that contract and know what their rights are so that they can use it.”


Typically, workers who are the most adept at leveraging their contract have done deep organizing. This is a type of organizing that takes patience and relies on more than just meeting quotas (i.e. simply signing enough union cards to certify with a union). Deep organizing is about ensuring that workers fully understand that they are the union. What they get out of it depends on what they put in.


The Seed & Stone workers, for example, did not look to a UFCW 1518 staff representative to catalyze the change they desired. “I ended up hosting a meeting at my house last year where we discussed what we needed to change – what we wanted out of union representation,” says one of the worker organizers. “Then we had a union rep show up and give us the spiel about the process.” Early dialoguing and consensus-building were key to their success, and it’s this highly localized approach to activism that’s allowing the union to grow provincially.

If you are a budtender or work in a grow-op and are interested in joining a union, learn more at ufcw1518.com/cannabis or contact an organizer today.

Indigenous Committee Amplifies Sept. 30 Campaign

There’s a new Premier in BC, and UFCW 1518’s passionate Indigenous Committee members are making sure he hears them. This month they repeated the message they’ve been sending to the province for over a year: “Make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a paid, statutory holiday for all workers.”
On Nov. 25, the committee wrote to Premier Eby, demanding action on this important reconciliatory step. The five passionate union members also wrote to 10 fellow Indigenous women who comprise the Ministers Advisory Council on Indigenous Women (MACIW). You can read both letters, below.

November 25, 2022
 
To the Honourable Premier Eby,
 
Our names are Marylou Fonda in Nak’azdli Whut’en territory (Fort St. James), Anita Letendre in Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Musqueam Nation territories (North Vancouver), Laurie Simon in Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Squamish Nation and Musqueam Nation territories (Vancouver), Raven Morningstar in the Kwanlin Dun First Nations and Taa an Kwachin Council territories (Yellowknife, Yukon) and myself, Christine Holowka, in Lheidli T’enneh territory (Prince George). Along with all our fellow members at UFCW 1518, we welcome you as our province’s new leader.
 
We are writing to urge you to legislate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a provincial statutory holiday. Some employers in BC, especially in the grocery sector, had record profits since the beginning of the pandemic and chose not to acknowledge this very important day.
 
Many Indigenous workers were unable to observe the ceremonies held by First Nations communities on September 30. If their employer scheduled them to work and would not change the schedule, they could not attend their ceremonies with their respective people or community. Nor was this day recognized with statutory holiday pay.
 
Our committee has been pushing the BC government to honour National Day for Truth and Reconciliation for over a year now, with limited response. After sending letters to MLAs and the Premier and publishing our successful petition, we received a commitment from Premier Horgan to engage in consultations with stakeholders. We appreciate this openness to dialogue, but it is not enough.
 
We are grieving, and will continue to grieve, as more residential schools in Canada are being searched. Yukoners and British Columbians, who are allies, are saddened by this. They offer help and want to learn more about this land’s history. A large majority of our diverse population in Canada who never knew, never realized how bad the residential school system was, are shocked and saddened. The world is watching Canada’s response and is wondering why it is taking so long for the federal and provincial governments to rightfully mandate Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday.
 
Today, we urge and call on you to follow the Yukon and make Truth and Reconciliation Day a statutory holiday. All Indigenous people, and the beautiful diversity of cultures in this province, need the healing to start as soon as possible. We need action on the promise of healing.
 
This very important action of making September 30 Truth and Reconciliation Day a provincial statutory holiday will be a huge step forward in the many steps that need to be taken on the road to truth and reconciliation. Please find our petition attached.
 
In solidarity,
 
The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee:
 
Anita Letendre
Chris Holowka
Laurie Simons
Marylou Fonda
Raven Morningstar (Chair)

November 25, 2022

To the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women,

The Indigenous Committee of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518) writes to you today seeking support. As five proud Indigenous women and union activists, we admire your work, amplifying the voices of Canada’s First People. We would be honoured if you would extend the megaphone to our Committee, so that we can amplify the voices of the workers and allies who signed our petition, urging the province to honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30) with a paid, statutory holiday.

Attached, you will find the petition, which we shared with UFCW 1518 members and the broader public. We ask that our sisters in the MACIW consider it in all of your recommendations to Minister Rankin on Truth and Reconciliation actions.

We do not need to underscore the importance of Call to Action 80 to you — the MACIW knows why Truth and Reconciliation Day is so critical to building justice on Turtle Island. Rather, we come to you as representatives of Indigenous workers, employed in grocery, healthcare, retail, cannabis, and the industrial sectors, who serve their communities every day through the private sector and the public home healthcare system.

Just as we strive for equity-seeking language in our collective agreements, our Committee is now advocating for equity-seeking labour legislation. Worker rights must comport with and advance Indigenous rights, not only because Indigenous peoples are workers, but because private-sector employers profit from our Unceded and Treaty land.

As women, this issue is even closer to our hearts because we disproportionately fill primary caregiver roles in our families and communities. Indigenous women should not be burdened with extra childcare costs or unpaid leave to accommodate legislation that only grants their school-age children the day off on September 30 but not them. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a day for families to grieve and heal intergenerational wounds; this is harder to do when families cannot be together on this day because some must work.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. We look forward to hearing from you.

In solidarity,

The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee:

Anita Letendre

Chris Holowka

Laurie Simons

Marylou Fonda

Raven Morningstar (Chair)

UBC Students Unionize with UFCW 1518 to Reclaim Campus Grocery Store

VANCOUVER – After sparking a fast-paced organizing drive, workers at Grocery Checkout are preparing to negotiate their first collective agreement and resurrect the community-focused model that attracted them to the jobs in the first place.

On Dec. 4, the BC Labour Board confirmed that employees at the workplace, located in the Students Union Building, are now members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518. Most of the staff are students, whose frustration with the business reached a tipping point when the new owners bulldozed its “by students, for students” design.

“Part of what we loved about Grocery Checkout was that it was committed to hiring students, who need the work and know the campus community,” says one of the workers. “We got to choose what merchandise was sold, how the business was run…we chose the music — it was a lot of fun. And we were all in it together. The new owners abandoned that vision.”

Grocery Checkout started hiring from outside the student body, even cutting students’ hours to accommodate new full-time employees who were not properly trained by the employer or even selected through a rigorous, standardized hiring process. Nepotism was running rampant, and the dedicated staff knew that they had to act—talking to the employer individually was not working, and the situation was dire.

“People need this money to survive,” says one Grocery Checkout employee, “students are getting screwed over.”

In addition to inflation, students also contend with crushing tuition fees, which the UBC Board of Governors just voted to raise. The new UFCW 1518 members at Grocery Checkout need better compensation, more in-line with the other on-campus private businesses that provide higher wages, extended health benefits, and even meal vouchers. The Grocery Checkout staff want to prioritize guaranteed hours, guaranteed discounts, and a ban on non-student hires moving forward. These asks were a long time coming; even before the new owners took over Grocery Checkout, their employer was not fulfilling their promises.

“A lot of us were hired under false pretences,” says one of the workers. “We were told we would have a certain number of hours every week. That didn’t happen. We were told that we’d get raises based on performance. That didn’t happen.”

With a union, the workers can infuse the store with its old grassroots spirit and finally hold Grocery Checkout accountable. Most importantly, they can face the employer together. Unionizing “is the only thing we can do to get power back into our own hands,” according to one worker. Another bonus, they add, is that a union will outlive their employment and continue “protecting students of the future.” The young workers say they hope that their action inspires more student-run organizing drives. “It’s about setting a precedent for the other private businesses on campus and saying ‘No you don’t have to sit around and take this.’”

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For more information, contact:

Celia Shea, UFCW 1518 Digital Organizer at 604-250-6483

Cineplex Workers Sign First Contract in BC 

UFCW 1518 says young workers led the charge 

NEW WESTMINISTER—After facing a challenging two years of layoffs and pandemic mayhem, Cineplex theater workers across the lower mainland took a significant step towards improving their working conditions and rebuilding solidarity after successfully ratifying their first contract yesterday (Nov. 30). 

Most of the staff behind the organizing and bargaining effort are young workers—teens, students, and part-timers. They joined the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1518 to win fairness, respect, and democracy in the theatre industry. 

“This contract is a big victory for BC’s young workers,” says UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, “Some of them aren’t even allowed to vote in elections yet. But they can work, and they’re using unions as a tool to voice their opinions—to effect real change and build civic engagement.” 

The collective agreement covers over 400 staff at the Coquitlam, Richmond and Surrey Cineplexes and will introduce several basic protections to the megatheatres. Notably, staff now have a grievance procedure through which they can resolve issues, such as harassment or violations of scheduling policy, and even challenge unfair discipline and layoffs. The staff also won student leave, seniority language (to reward experience), as well as two Great Escape Voucher passes. 

For mature workers and staff who plan on staying at Cineplex in the long run, this contract is a great stepping stone that they can continue to improve and expand upon when it expires in 2025. The first order of business for the workers will be to elect Shop Stewards (activists) and representatives to their Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee. 

Johnson says that this week’s Cineplex success is a reminder to today’s workers that unions are not a relic of the past. They’re a people’s movement and reflect what present-day workers need as long as they get involved. 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a first job, a part-time student job, or a full-time career—workers can unionize it. Who doesn’t want a say in how they’re treated at work? And who isn’t frustrated by at least one policy or practice that runs counter to frontline expertise? More and more employees in traditionally under-organized industries are realizing that they don’t have to stay frustrated and voiceless. They can join a union and enforce solutions.” 

If you work at Cineplex and would like to join the union, you can find more information at ufcw1518.com/cineplex or contact a union organizer today. 

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