UFCW 1518 members working at PriceSmart foods ratified an historic collective agreement that increased wages by 11 percent for the company’s most vulnerable workers. On February 10, members at the Richmond and Metrotown stores turned out in high numbers to vote to accept the contract.
The bargaining committee, composed of Pauline Green, Claire Chai, Carrie Cheng and Stephen Chou, worked tirelessly to craft a fair agreement that addressed systemic low wages of workers in the retail food sector. “It was a very challenging set of negotiations,” said Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “But we’re confident we got the best possible contract. And we couldn’t be more pleased at the significant wage increase for our members and the improvements to their benefits.”
Overnight, the hourly wage of food clerks will jump from $11 to $12.20, with the start rate rising to $12.50 in the last year of the contract. In addition to the immediate wage hike, Novak pointed out that food clerks who were previously capped at a wage less than $12 will now continue to enjoy wage increases up to $20 an hour. In another important win, they will also be eligible for MSP, dental and extended health benefits, as well as a lump sum payment of up to $1500. The vacation entitlement, which had been capped three weeks, now increases to up to five weeks.
“This is an important day for food retail workers. Our members told us what they wanted and we delivered,” comments Novak. “Thanks to the leadership and hard work of the bargaining committee, family benefits and the path to a living wage have become more attainable for our members.”