The year 2021 certainly had its ups and downs and despite many of the hardships and challenges, we have built momentum and accomplished so many things.
As we near the end of 2021, we want to look back and give you an overview of what we have accomplished this year and provide you with insight into what you can expect as we move forward into 2022.
After learning from the challenges of 2020, we picked up our speed in 2021 to continue to fight for our members. Here are some of the things that we accomplished during the first quarter of the year:
- In January, UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak wrote a letter to the BC government asking to have frontline workers receive early access to COVID-19 vaccines. This came to fruition in the second quarter.
- Alberni Co-op and Ucluelet Co-op ratified their new agreement in January, which included wage increases.
- Cartems ratified their first collective agreement in February winning improvements, such as establishing seniority, a probation period and a tip policy in addition to severance pay and determining mandatory rest period between shifts.
- Potanicals Green Growers workers negotiated and ratified their first collective agreement, becoming the first cannabis growing operation and extraction facility to unionize in Canada.
- Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis also ratified their first collective agreement winning increases, sommelier training and scheduled raises.
- In February, Save-on-Foods workers ratified a new contract that brought industry-leading and life-changing wage increases.
- After fighting a sexist skirt policy, workers at Boston Pizza were welcomed into the union.
- Members at Colonial Farms in Armstrong, BC ratified a five-year collective agreement that features major wage and workplace improvements.
- In March, we called on the government to grant workers paid time off for COVID-19 vaccination appointments. As a result, the BC government announced in April that employers are required to cover three paid sick days at full pay until the end of 2021. Soon after, the government announced that it will create a permanent paid sick program that will launch in 2022.
- In April, we welcomed budtenders from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club to the union.
- We also fought for gig workers to have free short-term parking. And after talking to politicians, a few municipalities are now creating short-term parking solutions for gig workers. Victoria and Vancouver are working on it.
- During the April Education Month, we continued to use our digital education platform and had the highest number of registrants with hundreds of members taking on union courses.
- After months of campaigning for grocery workers to be prioritized for vaccinations, members were provided priority access.
- UFCW 1518 sent a letter to the BC government to prioritize vaccinations for grocery store workers under 18 and soon after grocery store members under 18 were able to get their vaccines.
- In June, the CLC Virtual Convention kicked off with a record number of UFCW 1518 delegates. The meeting determined the actions that will set the agenda for Canada’s labour movement.
- UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak attended the National Indigenous Rights Conference along with UFCW 1518 members to honour and commemorate the children found at the former residential school in Kamloops.
- Workers from Trees Cannabis voted to join UFCW 1518.
- After UFCW 1518 published a press release about the shortage of home support workers and how Interior Health’s scheduling program is making it more difficult to retain home support workers in the region, Interior Health wrote back and met with Kim to discuss the issues.
- Workers at Cherry Park Retirement Residence and Rossdown Natural Foods ratified their new agreements, which include benefit improvements and wage increases.
- In July, 18 young members from UFCW 1518 virtually attended the UFCW National Young Workers Internship program.
- In partnership with Sobeys and Save-On-Foods, we donated a total of $10,000 to the United Way for the Period Promise campaign.
- We celebrated pride by sponsoring Vancouver Pride’s anti-racism workshops and sent hundreds of union pride T-shirts across the province.
- Matchstick Coffee bargained hard through a pandemic and won a strong first contract.
- In early August, we reminded the BC government to ensure that gig workers are included in BC’s universal paid sick leave program.
- At the end of August, we sent a letter to Dr. Henry asking that mask mandates be reinstated in stores that are not covered by the mandatory vaccination order and that stores be required to reinstate crowd control measures like wayfinding arrows to minimize contact between workers and members of the public. This is all to continue to protect our essential workers.
- Hornby Island Co-op and Mid-Island Co-op ratified their new collective agreements with a 100% unanimous vote.
- Avalon Dairy ratified their first contract and won major workplace improvements.
- We had our 2nd annual Human Rights Week with online events featuring panel discussions on human rights, how to take action for Truth and Reconciliation and be an ally, and discussions on mental health as a human rights issue, particularly looking at the intersecting impacts of racism, colonialism and class on mental health.
- Donald’s Fine Foods workers and workers at Non-Public Fund Employees in Esquimalt, BC also ratified their new collective agreements winning workplace improvements.
- In September, we sent a letter to Save-On-Foods, Sobeys and other employers calling on them to grant their workers a statutory holiday on September 30 in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day. A few companies, such as MEC, Lifestyle Markets and Clarity Cannabis, recognized the statutory holiday; however, other companies did not grant their workers a statutory holiday on September 30. We will continue to put pressure on the BC government to mandate September 30 as a statutory holiday. And in September 30, we announced our new Indigenous Committee made up of 5 passionate member activists from different Indigenous communities.
- At the end of September, a group of health care members attended the Health Care Bargaining Virtual Conference to prepare for the upcoming negotiations for the new community health workers contract.
- In October, after filing an unfair labour practice complaint against giant tech corporation Uber for unfairly firing Uber drivers without due process, the Labour Board met with the union to begin the process of addressing the workers’ complaints.
- We held our annual Lobby Days event where, one by one, our members met with politicians and explained the need for recognizing Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday, providing paid sick days, improving affordability in BC, fighting for gig workers’ rights and strengthening labour laws. Our members ensured that we’re moving the needle in fighting for issues that matter to our membership.
- Annual fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada – BC/Yukon Region was a success with more than a million dollars raised for blood cancers.
- President Kim Novak and UFCW 1518 staff and members met at the BC Legislature building with the BC Federation of Labour and other allies to campaign for 10 paid sick days to ensure that no one has to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe.
- The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee held its first meeting to build the foundation of the committee and to advance the work of reconciliation within our union.
November and December
- Three Safeway Extra stores (Willowbrook, Burquitlam and Dawson Creek) joined thousands of other UFCW 1518 members working at Safeway stores across the province under one superior contract.
- More workers joined the BC Bud Division as we welcomed Burnside Buds, Seed and Stone Cannabis and The Original Farm.
- Our November Education Month was another success as hundreds of members joined us on Zoom for member orientations, fundamental and advanced classes in stewarding, health and safety, bargaining, mental health first aid and other important topics.
- In December, we held our annual Children’s Christmas party at the Burnaby Village Museum in Deer Lake. A few weeks after, members and their children met Santa via Zoom to let him know what they would like for Christmas.
Looking forward to 2022
As we approach 2022, the pandemic continues and we may face additional restrictions in the coming year. And while COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, we are in awe of your resilience and the incredible work that you continue to do on the frontlines.
We have a big year ahead with a lot of exciting work to be done. With your engagement and solidarity, we are certain that we can continue to improve workplaces across British Columbia and the Yukon.
We hope you are enjoying the season safely with your loved ones and that you are staying healthy. We are better and stronger as a result of a trying year and have much to look forward to in 2022.
The UFCW 1518 Team