Sobeys Bargaining Update

Union Prepares to Table Strong Proposals

Tomorrow is our first day of bargaining with Sobeys to renew your next contract. Your bargaining committee and your UFCW 1518 staff negotiators, Stephen Portman and Ronda Melbourne, have met over the last week to strategize and prepare for the fight to win a strong contract that will help all of you build worker power in the retail sector.

Thank you to everyone who filled out your bargaining surveys. Your voices have been heard, and we’re prepared to amplify your message to the employer. Thanks to you, we have a strong mandate to seek the following improvements at the bargaining table:

  1. Fair and Equitable Wages: We won’t beat around the bush—we’re seeking the wage increases all Sobeys members need
  2. Increased Workplace Flexibility: Sobeys workers need more flexibility around scheduling & vacations so they can achieve work-life balance
  3. Improving Store Culture: Members submitted several strong ideas and ways that your contract can help build a better workplace.  We’re looking to build more worker power on the shop floor

Stay tuned for more email updates! Also, check out our new UFCW 1518 Sobeys bargaining 2023 online resource hub — meet your committee members and stay connected to issues and news related to bargaining and grocery worker power.

We will keep you posted throughout the bargaining process on what is happening at the table and any actions that you can take to fight for a strong contract. But we need your help! If your coworkers aren’t getting our email updates or text messages, have them reach out to us at [email protected] with their full name, store number, employee ID number, email address, and cell phone number.
In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Committee:

Bob Milan – General Clerk – Kelowna/Interior – Grid A
Armin Reyes – Reline Crew – Provincial Wide – Grid A
Marlene White – All Purpose Clerk – Lower Mainland – Grid B
Angela Crosato – Cashier – Lower Mainland – Grid A
Peter Dombrowski – General Clerk – Fraser Valley – Grid A
Teresa-lyne Dziedzic – Pharmacy Assistant – Lower Mainland
Matt Rose – Baker – Kootenays – Grid A
Peter Dimond – General Clerk – Grid B – Prince Rupert/North 
Shiela Scarr – Cashier – Grid B – Cashier
UFCW 1518 Staff negotiator, Stephen Portman

Community Health Bargaining Update

Tentative Agreement Reached

We are pleased to announce that the Health Services & Support – Community Subsector Association (CBA), which includes UFCW 1518, reached a tentative agreement in the early hours of Sunday, January 15, 2023.

UFCW 1518 and the seven other unions included in this contract unanimously support the tentative agreement. We are encouraging all healthcare members to vote in favour of ratification of this contract, which will preserve your benefits, provide significant wage increases, and strengthen language protections.

In the coming days, we will share more details about the tentative agreement, information meetings that we will hold, and the voting process.

This has been a challenging round of bargaining, and we thank the membership for your continued support and engagement throughout the negotiations. You helped give our committee the clear message to keep fighting for a fair deal, which has led us to securing the best possible deal that we are proud to recommend.

If any of your coworkers are not receiving UFCW 1518 email updates now is the time to contact us! Please have them email [email protected] with their full name, employer, employee ID, and personal email address.

Sobeys Bargaining Update

Meet Your UFCW 1518 Bargaining Committee

On March 31 your collective agreement with Sobeys expires, which means that you and your coworkers have the chance to push for improvements to your working conditions. On January 24, you will send your bargaining committee to the negotiations table to start this process.

Please help us in welcoming your bargaining committee! On the team, we have:

Angela Crosato – Cashier – Lower Mainland – Grid A
Peter Dimond – General Clerk – Grid B – Prince Rupert/North 
Peter Dombrowski – General Clerk – Fraser Valley – Grid A 
Teresa-lyne Dziedzic – Pharmacy Assistant – Lower Mainland
Bob Milan – General Clerk – Kelowna/Interior – Grid A 
Armin Reyes – Reline Crew – Provincial Wide – Grid A
Matt Rose – Baker – Kootenays – Grid A 
Shiela Scarr – Cashier – Grid B – Cashier  
Marlene White – All Purpose Clerk – Lower Mainland – Grid B 

Their job is to take the responses that you provided in your monetary and non-monetary bargaining surveys and craft them into proposals for a new agreement. As your co-workers, these members will rely on you throughout bargaining as the people they’re representing! They cannot do this alone. They need your support and your input so they can best represent you in negotiations.

All of our committee members are Sobeys employees just like you, so they bring a wealth of frontline experience. They come from all over the province and can speak to a wide range of store-and-region-specific issues. Combined with the expertise of your staff negotiators Stephen Portman and Ronda Melbourne, they’re poised to push for an agreement that advances everyone’s well-being.

Your committee will also be assisted by UFCW 1518 Managing Director Brad Bastien, as well as Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson and me. 

Stay tuned to your emails and please do not hesitate to reach out to your bargaining team at any point during negotiations.

In solidarity,

Kim Novak
President, UFCW 1518

Unionized Pharmacy Workers to Receive Pay Increase

But the real cure for short-staffed counters is permanent wage increases

If we want to fix understaffing, we need fair wages for the important work Pharmacy Assistants and Registered Techs do everyday. After many discussions, UFCW 1518 and Sobeys have finally agreed to a $2/hr premium increase for ALL Sobeys Pharmacy members in BC.

“Competitive start rates are a good thing, don’t get me wrong,” says UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak, “They can certainly attract more resumes, but alone, they don’t guarantee long-term stability—and they don’t recognize the hard work of ALL employees who are working hard every day. To combat turnover, companies must promise their employees a good future so that they stay. And that means fair increases for all employees.

Just as pharmacies will benefit from new staff, they also need seasoned staff with a wealth of experience and knowledge that they’ve built on the job.

During the pandemic, pharmacy assistants’ workload exploded, as the public rushed to get vaccines, leaving UFCW 1518 members who work behind the counter emotionally and physically burnt out.

The new temporary premium that UFCW 1518 negotiated is a good first step towards fairer pay for these highly specialized and educated members. All pharmacy assistants and regulated techs at Freshco/Chalo and Safeway stores are set to receive the $2/hr top-up starting January 1, for all work hours worked between that date and March 31, 2023.

“We are pleased to see that Sobeys has finally agreed to recognize ALL pharmacy members with this program—now we need to push for permanent increases for all employees at the bargaining table,” says Novak.

Bargaining is set to begin between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys later this month. All staff across departments—including the pharmacies—will band together to push for better working conditions and compensation. President Novak says that bargaining is the Pharmacy members’ big chance to make wage increases and other recruitment and retention initiatives permanent.

“This is where our members can win real and lasting protections,” says Novak. “I hope Sobeys sees that these efforts will ultimately benefit their customers, who depend heavily on our members for so many of their needs.”

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].

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.’”


For more information, contact:

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