Members working in Buckerfield’s in Duncan, BC ratified a new collective agreement that contains a living wage scale – the first of its kind for UFCW 1518.
A living wage is a regional calculation that assesses the amount of money a family of four needs to earn to meet their expenses. The living wage includes costs like rent and groceries as well as items like extended health care and two weeks’ savings for each adult. “It’s extraordinary for an employer to research the living wage for their community and voluntarily rename the wage scale in the collective agreement as the “living wage schedule,” says director Kim Balmer. “But that’s what this employer did.”
Founded by Ernest Buckerfield in 1919, Buckerfield’s earned a reputation for quality in the home and garden, animal feed, and farm markets. There are about a dozen independently owned stores under the Buckerfield’s banner across the province. The Duncan location is the only unionized store.
Under the two-year deal, the lowest full-time hourly rate of pay jumps from $12.50 to $15.12, for newly hired employees. According to Fight for 15 BC, a campaign led by the BC Federation of Labour to raise the minimum wage, paying $15 an hour would pull workers above the poverty line on all the standard measures of poverty. It would “put BC workers 10 percent above the Low Income Cut-Off and give them a fair chance to pay for the most basic necessities.” [source]
The bargaining committee, consisting of Rhonda Shrieber, union representative Kerry Brewster and Balmer, recommended ratification and members voted overwhelmingly in favour. “In addition to a living wage scale, there are comprehensive health and welfare benefits and the well funded UFCW pension plan,” Balmer comments. “For a small employer, it’s unquestionably a good contract.”