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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.’”

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For more information, contact:

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

Welcome Sephora Kamloops Workers!

The color trend is blue, red, and yellow at Sephora Kamloops today, after staff received the exciting news that their grassroots organizing drive paid off, and they’ll be the first cosmetics retail staff to unionize with UFCW 1518!

But that’s not all – they’re the first Sephora staff to unionize in Canada….ever! And if you also work at a Sephora in BC, your worksite could be the next to join the movement.

One beauty advisor says that the organizing drive was nerve-wracking but exhilarating, and they’re excited to keep the momentum going.

“Sephora touts ‘teamwork, initiative, innovation, and passion’…we’re showing them how powerful those values are when we use them together.”

Across North America, passionate people in retail are vying for a say in the companies that profit from their labour – many are coming to UFCW 1518 to build better jobs that afford them a living and respect their expertise.

Staff at Kamloops Sephora say there are many things that they value and enjoy about their jobs that they want to keep. Now their mission is to build more equity into the workplace and ensure everyone is compensated fairly.

Congratulations and a huge welcome to the Sephora Kamloops Staff. You’re joining a family of 25,000 workers who are standing by your side. Your union can’t wait to hear from you as we approach bargaining: what improvements do you want to bring to the store? What will benefit the most vulnerable members on your team? This is your union now.

First Sephora in Canada Applies to Join UFCW 1518

Employees at Sephora in Kamloops today applied to join the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518), which will make them the first unionized Sephora beauty advisors and sales staff in Canada.

UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak says this win highlights a growing movement of retail workers who are standing together to build better workplaces. “It goes to show that no matter what the job, workers need a voice, and we’re so excited for the opportunity to represent the hardworking staff at Sephora. This is especially exciting just days before Labour Day!”

One beauty advisor says that speaking up has been nerve-wracking but exhilarating, and they’re excited to keep the momentum going. “Sephora touts ‘teamwork, initiative, innovation, and passion’…we’re showing them how powerful those values are when we use them together,” they said.

Staff at the Kamloops Sephora are standing together to win wage and benefit improvements, so they can nurture their health while enjoying flexible schedules.

“The workers at Sephora are ready to build an even stronger workplace with great jobs that pay the bills and provide them work-life balance,” says Novak. “We look forward to working with them to make it happen!”

UFCW 1518 represents over 26,000 British Columbians in many sectors who are pushing for fairness in the workplace.