Precarious labour – work that is insecure, non-unionized and low-paying – is the hallmark of today’s workforce, both a product and casualty of neoliberal globalization. Workers are told they will hold multiple jobs over time and often more than one job at the same time.
Unionization is a bulwark against employment precarity. Collectively bargained contracts enshrine job protection, seniority, benefits and wage progression – none of which are guaranteed by non-unionized employment. Unionized workers across Canada earn more than their non-union counterparts. For women, who have historically faced discrimination in the workplace and typically head up single parent households, the benefits are even greater.
UFCW 1518 members at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Cloverdale moved away from precarity when they ratified their new collective agreement on June 21. The three-year deal brought wage increases as well as a lump sum payment for longer term members and retroactive pay for newer members.
“Negotiations were challenging, but our bargaining committee was steady and determined,” says president Ivan Limpright of stewards Laurie Lambert and Lorene Stirling. “This store is one of only four unionized Shoppers Drug Marts in British Columbia. We are proud of their achievement in getting a fair contract.”
Unionized workers fare better than their non-unionized counterparts, fighting for and winning things like guaranteed wage increases, dental and health benefits, as well as a pension plan. “No doubt, the advantage of having a union to stand together with you against the employer is huge,” Limpright adds. “And with each round of bargaining, we strive to make the collective agreement even stronger, and clear the path towards a living wage and a better life for our members.”