UFCW 1518 members working at Aspen Gas Centre in Comox ratified a new collective agreement in June, with the majority voting to accept the deal. Importantly, the union bargaining committee negotiated a minimum wage spread to address retention problems and to account for scheduled minimum wage increases scheduled annually for the next three years.
Members with 4160-6239 hours will earn 10 cents above the minimum wage during each year of the agreement. Those with more than 6240 hours will earn 40 cents above minimum wage in 2019, 30 cents in 2020 and 45 cents in 2021. Members in the Supervisor Classification will receive a two percent wage hike for each year and those in the Customer Service Representative classification will receive a signing bonus.
President Kim Novak said the agreement shows how important it to have unions to press for higher wages in the face of annual minimum wage increases. “The labour movement has been successful in lobbying the government to increase the minimum wage. We then build upon those increases at the bargaining table, to continually push companies and co-operatives toward becoming living wage employers.
Other highlights of the contract include improve funeral leave provisions and the addition of Joint Labour Management meetings. Shop stewards will receive 15 minutes of paid time to orient new staff to the union.
President Novak thanked the bargaining committee, made up of member Lynn Smith and Reg Lewis, assisted by union representative Ashley Campbell.