Member Spotlight: Clint Dennett, James Commodore & Rajiv Mehra

Clint Dennett & James Commodore, Avalon Dairy Shop Stewards


Our members in the Industrial sector—which runs the gamut from meat processing plants to recycling centres—are tough. As UFCW 1518 Executive Board member and Grand River Foods employee Rajiv Mehra says, “we are pushed a lot.”

GRAND RIVER FOODS Worker & UFCW 1518 Executive Board Member Rajiv Mehra
GRAND RIVER FOODS Worker & UFCW 1518 Executive Board Member Rajiv Mehra

He describes his own work environment as incredibly cold and wet, but it’s all because of the union that workers like him have the health protections and work wear that they need to do the job safely and well. 

What these physical workspaces lack in warmth, our members make up for with care, community, and vitality. The Industrial sector boasts one of the strongest networks of engaged and vocal Shop Stewards, who take great care to protect their coworkers. Consistently, they act as both a buffer between the shop floor and the employer, as well as a liaison between the larger union and their coworkers. 

Avalon Dairy member Clint Dennett is one of these Stewards. “I was in it before we were even certified. I took it on as a challenge. [Stewards] are pretty much the leaders around here—we try to bring everybody together and on board.”

Inspiring passion and power in their coworkers will be the next big challenge for these leaders. The more members who are willing to speak up, enforce their collective agreement, and use the union’s platform to advance causes that they value, the stronger the union and the better their wages and working conditions will be. Dennett agrees and says that mentorship and education for members will be key because the Stewards can’t be everywhere at once. Mehra notes that shifts in demographics must be considered when talking about empowering workers too. When he first started at Grand River Foods, many languages were spoken among staff. 

Update Magazine sat down with Mehra, Dennett and other passionate industrial activists to ask them how the union has improved their workplace, and how their coworkers can get more involved.

How has unionizing benefited your workplace?

James Commodore (Avalon Dairy): Respect. A lot more. We don’t have a lot of the bullying from management anymore because we have rights now. We have a voice. Things have changed quite a bit for the better.

Rajiv Mehra (Grand River Foods): Job security. If the employer has done something wrong, you can approach the union through your Shop Stewards—they’re the first people on the floor, elected by the members. We’ve seen many times when people are terminated from the shop. When you’re nonunionized you have no rights to come back to work. But when you’re unionized, we can fight to bring people back and get them their job back.

Clint Dennett (Avalon Dairy): I’m glad we got a constant rep. When [Union Rep] Michael came in, it was like a safety net, so
now we can move forward. He’s here—and it’s good for the members to see him. It’s that reinforcement of ‘look the union’s here.’ 

What advice would you give to members who want to get more involved?

Mehra: Call the union! See the benefits that your union has. They will support you in every aspect, wherever you are. You need their help, they come. Nobody can harass you, nobody can push you, nobody can bully you—these are the advantages the union has. And without the union, you can’t get all these benefits.

Dennett: I would say, ‘do it.’ That one class that we took online, you learn so much. You think you know a lot, but as soon as you do a class you learn so much more.

Member Spotlight: Yukie Imada

UFCW 1518 Community Health Member Yukie Imada

We’re sharing stories from our latest edition of Update Magazine (Summer 2023), starting with this beautiful op-ed by Community Health Worker Yukie Imada. Look for print copies of Update Magazine in the mail or at your workplace!


Most of the clients I support driving to their homes and delivering care to their doors—are seniors. When I look at them, I see my mom and dad, who are now in their 80’s. When I meet their families, I think of my sister, supporting our mom through her dementia diagnosis.

All three live in Japan, which I left one final time in 2011 to settle in BC. I had two young children, and as a migrant parent, finding steady work that could pay the bills was not easy. In home care, I saw an opportunity anddecided to pursue a job as a Community Health care Worker (CHW) to support my kids. 

But I wasn’t acting on maternal instinct, alone; I was thinking of my own parents, an ocean away in Japan. I thought that if I can’t be there for them in their old age, I want to be there for someone else’s parents. If I can’t be beside my sister, I want to be there for BC’s family caregivers, to alleviate the pressure that they experience. In this last round of bargaining, my ability to keep doing this work for British Columbians was at stake.

To save our jobs and home care we needed a real recruitment and retention plan that would fix our under-resourced and understaffed teams. Financial parity with our counterparts at medical facilities, protections against violence, and provisions for mental health were also a must. 

As of March 1, 2023, we secured a new contract with all these improvements and more. As a CHW this win affects me directly. It means I can afford my bills and that I’ll be less susceptible to burnout. But it also means I can pay it forward and support health care at all levels, which is the true value of quality home care. 

By preventing falls and monitoring medication intake, CHWs protect individuals and help them maintain their independence. We also protect families by ensuring that sick, recovering, disabled or elderly relatives can stay connected with loved ones in the comfort of their own homes. Last but not least, we keep communities strong by ensuring that vulnerable people stay woven into the fabric of their neighborhoods. 

Even though the work that we do is limited to private homes, it affects the public health care system as a whole and, therefore, every British Columbian. For instance, by doing regular house visits and providing mobility exercises, we prevent overcrowding in emergency rooms and continuing-care centres, where facilities staff are severely understaffed and overworked. 

Everything is related. A solid Community Health care system is the foundation for an all-around healthy society. My mom always said everything feeds into each other. You can’t distinguish giving from receiving because they’re related. Just as she cared for me, I do for my community what I would do for her if she required the same level of care as my clients. Similarly, this new contract gives CHWs the support that we need to keep supporting our neighbors. 

UFCW 1518 Community Health Workers Ratify Historic Contract

14–16% wage increases, protections against violence, and more

Over 3,000 members of the UFCW 1518 Community Health sector, who provide home care to vulnerable people across British Columbia, are celebrating today after ratifying an historic collective agreement. The new contract will benefit Community Health workers and their clients now and into the future, bringing needed stability into the sector.

The agreement covers Community Health Care workers in eight different unions, including UFCW 1518. Collectively, they comprise the Community Bargaining Association (CBA), whose resolve at the bargaining table has resulted in some of the highest wage increases that community health workers have ever received in the CBA’s history.

UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson says that it’s about time. “Our members and other Community Health workers are finally getting the respect and recognition they need and deserve. These significant wage increases are overdue and were desperately needed for these folks who work every day to keep our health care system afloat.”

Over 94% of CBA members voted in favour of the new three-year collective agreement.

Improvements to wages and benefits structure

The new agreement will help bridge the gap that’s been widening between these workers and their counterparts in facilities. Not only does it include, on average, a 14–16% wage increase for all members over three years, but there are also improved premiums for weekends and evenings and guaranteed-hours positions.

The deal also features a significant funding commitment from the government to ensure the long-term viability of the CBA members’ Health Benefits Trust, which features a new and improved funding structure.

“Our members’ jobs are physically and mentally draining enough without the added worry that their benefits could be in danger,” says Johnson. “With this deal, they don’t have to worry—their benefits are secure.”

Much of the stress frontline workers in Community Health Care experience stems from chronic understaffing and intense workloads. The new collective agreement seeks to resolve this serious issue by prioritizing retention and recruitment of talent through improvements to monetary and non-monetary conditions.

From avenues for addressing crushing workload to protections against workplace violence, the new contract is making Community Health and Home Support jobs more attractive, respectful and safe. And Johnson says that this is good news for all parts of the public care system.

“By doing consistent house visits and providing mobility exercises, home care workers like our members prevent overcrowding in emergency rooms and continuing-care centres,” says Johnson, “Their jobs are critical, so when they have the resources that they need to provide quality support and when we have a robust community care system in place, everyone benefits.”

Community Health Bargaining Update

An Historic Tentative Agreement

In just over a week, UFCW 1518 healthcare members, and members of seven other BC unions, will have the chance to vote on an historic agreement that will make a big difference in every community health worker’s life. Thanks to the unwavering support of their fellow workers, the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) secured an agreement with the largest general wage increases that we’ve ever seen since the Association formed, and so much more!

Are you a community health member and want to know what you will earn if we ratify this agreement? Find out with the wage calculator!

All eight unions in the Community Bargaining Association —including UFCW 1518 — unanimously recommend ratification of this fantastic agreement. A few of the major improvements that ratification will introduce to the job, include:

  • Average wage increases of 14% to 16% for each step of the wage grid over three years.
  • A significant gain towards wage parity with those working under the Facilities Agreement in hospitals and care facilities, including the elimination of Step 1.
  • A funding commitment from the government to ensure the long-term viability of the Joint Community Benefit Trust. (No cuts to benefits and an improved funding model!)
  • Extension of the CRA vehicle allowance rate to all employees covered by the CBA.
  • Guaranteed-hours positions for regular community health workers in windows of availability.
  • Language that obliges the employer to tell you what a meeting with management is about, before the meeting happens.
  • A variety of improvements to address chronic recruitment and retention issues in our sector.
  • Occupational health & safety (OHS) — language was included to address aggressive behavior, violence prevention training, critical incident debriefing/defusing, ergonomics, and psychological safety and health.
  • Premium increases for weekend and evening shifts.
  • Expanded mobility rights for workers who want to move jobs within their health authority.
  • An additional day of paid vacation for all regular employees.
  • 50% of costs for employer-requested medical certificates to be paid by the employer.
  • New overtime distribution language that includes seniority.

Read more about these highlights and other features of the agreement, in this compact, easy-to-understand review.

You can also view the full tentative agreement here.

Next Steps

Before voting begins, UFCW 1518’s Community Health bargaining representatives and union leaders want to provide members with as much information, in as many forms, as possible. We’ve set up three events for community health workers to attend, so you can ask questions and learn more. The first one is just for Shop Stewards. The other two are for all members. Please encourage each other to attend and to vote!

Shop Stewards—Zoom:

Thursday, January 26 @ 5 pm PST

Stewards, please check your emails for the zoom link. Join UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson and other healthcare activists for an important discussion about your role in the ratification vote.

Telephone town hall:

Monday, January 30 @ 10:00 am—10:30 am PST & 5:00 pm—5:30 pm PST

Get on a call with your Community Health bargaining representatives, UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson to learn more about the details of the tentative agreement and to ask questions. Participating in the Town Hall is as simple as answering your phone. We’ll call you at the specified time!

Zoom information sessions:

Tuesday, January 31—Thursday, February 2 @ 10:00 am—11:00 am PST & 5:00 pm—6:00 pm PST

Join a Zoom call with your bargaining representatives to get all the information you need to make an informed vote when it comes time to hit the online polls. Register for one of six zoom info sessions here.

Voting and More

Online voting will begin on February 1. We will send your voting credentials by email at 12 pm on February 1. If you do not receive your voting credentials at that time, please contact us at [email protected] or call 1-800-661-3708.

If you know of any coworkers who are not receiving UFCW 1518 emails, please tell them to email [email protected] and provide their first name, last name, email, cell phone number, employee ID, and employer name.

Because the Community Bargaining Association comprises seven other unions, whose healthcare members also need to vote on this historic tentative agreement, we won’t be able to provide the results of the vote until March 1.

If you are a community health member, encourage your coworkers to attend the UFCW 1518 Telephone Town Hall and Zoom Sessions – to make your ratification vote really count, everyone needs to get involved.

Thank you again to our members for your resolve, passion and unrelenting support. You made it clear to the CBA what you needed out of this agreement, and you stood behind your demands. Now, thousands of BC workers have an equitable agreement that will support them while they support British Columbians.

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.

Bargaining with HEABC Hits a Wall

Strike vote is a potential as members prepare to mobilize

On Nov. 3, the members of the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) of healthcare unions, including UFCW 1518, met with your employer, the HEABC, along with a representative from the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC) Secretariat.

We impressed upon the PSEC that the employer’s last monetary offer is not enough to meet your core bargaining demands. In particular, we emphasized the dramatic differences in compensation between CBA and FBA workers and the impact it has had, and will continue to have, on recruitment and retention in the CBA.
Although we tried to clearly demonstrate the disparity, we have received no indication that the monetary offer from the Province of BC will change.
We are deeply disappointed and feel there is no purpose meeting anymore with HEABC until we talk with you – the membership. We will be scheduling a meeting with the UFCW Healthcare Bargaining Advisory Committee and on Dec. 6, your UFCW 1518 leadership is hosting a telephone townhall, where we will share this bargaining update with the entire membership, along with a plan to connect with your coworkers and an important update on the strong financial position of our Member Action Reserve Fund (formerly called the strike fund).
In the coming weeks, stay tuned for more opportunities to learn about what the employer’s current offer means, what essential services are and how they work, and what a potential strike vote and resulting job action would look like. Please continue to check your email for more information about the townhall. Encourage your coworkers to join!
Our goal is to do outreach until mid January. Then the constituent unions of the CBA will meet with each other to strategize.

HEABC Bargaining Continues, Progress Stalls

The push for parity continues

Between Oct. 19 and 21, the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) committee resumed negotiations with your employer, the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC). We did make progress and are close to resolving outstanding non-monetary matters, and we’re currently working to reach an agreement on changes to hours of work in both Article 14 and 15.

However, the HEABC’s (on behalf of the Provincial government) monetary offer does not go far enough – and the committee has continued to emphasize this. Although the offer includes monies to match the top rate of CBA classifications to the comparable FBA rate, it does not address the significant gap in shift premium rates, vacation entitlement, or the three years of full-time hours it takes to reach the top step.

More concerning is that there must be additional money provided to fund the Joint Community Benefits Trust at the same contribution rates as the FBA. The bargaining committee has made it very clear – without additional funding, not only will we not be able to match benefits, we’ll remain in a position where the benefits of workers in the CBA could be reduced. We are committed to stopping this from happening and that is why we are fighting for additional money from the province to avoid this impact on our members in the long term.

We are going to make one more attempt to resolve these matters in the coming weeks at the bargaining table. If we are unsuccessful, we will have no other choice but to engage members on next steps up to and including the potential of taking a strike vote.

Please share this update with any coworkers, and if there are members in your workplace who are not receiving updates, please encourage them to send their contact information to [email protected], with their full name, employer name, work location, and member ID.

Bargaining Update: HEABC Talks Stalled

Community Bargaining Association Seeking Fair Deal for Members

Your Community Bargaining Association (CBA) has been hard at work over the last two weeks, bargaining with the Health Employer’s Association of British Columbia (HEABC). More than 2,000 UFCW 1518 members fall under this agreement and stand to gain significant improvements in their contracts once an agreement is reached.

Unfortunately, negotiations have stalled out due to the employer’s resistance to non-monetary improvements and wage increases that would bring home support workers closer in line with what their peers who work in Facilities have.

From the beginning of negotiations with HEABC, your union’s position has been clear: home support workers are a critical part of our healthcare system, and they deserve better wages, premiums, and vacation benefits that recognize their incredible work.

There is some good news, however, as the CBA has come to tentative agreements on improving the language on overtime opportunities and enabling full mobility with health authorities.

What happens next?

Despite these recent difficulties, your union remains committed to negotiating a fair deal that not only provides you with the compensation you deserve but also begins to address the chronic understaffing and retention issues that continue to make your work unsustainable.

You can help your Bargaining Committee and the CBA pressure the employer by helping us mobilize your fellow UFCW 1518 members. Over the next couple of weeks, please take a few moments to check in with your co-workers and ask if they have been receiving our email updates. If they haven’t, have them email our head office at [email protected] or phone us toll-free at 1.800.661.3708. Tell them to provide us with their first and last name, email address, work location name, employee number, and cell phone number. Having updated contact information for all members will be critically important if we need to pull together a demonstration of worker solidarity.

The CBA and HEABC do not have imminent dates scheduled to resume bargaining, and negotiations will likely resume in mid-October. We will update you following the next round of talks and will keep you in the loop if there are any developments in the meantime.