Do you want a say in your wages, health & safety, work-life balance, dress code, mental health, schedules, staffing, overtime, and how management treats you? If so visit ufcw1518.com/join-us because you’re not alone. These are the kinds of issues that concern most employed people, regardless of their employer.
But nowhere are we seeing more of a push for justice than in retail. Grocery is no exception, where workers are taking control and designing the future of the industry, for the benefit of themselves, their families, and British Columbians, not the small handful of CEOs hoarding wealth at the top of the food chain.
At mega grocer Save-On-Foods, where the majority of UFCW 1518 members work, employees not only rose to the challenge of continuing to serve the public during a pandemic last year; they also raised the bar for industry standards, securing several protections in their new agreement, including:
- Starting wages well above minimum wage
- Automatic periodic pay raises for staff.
- Stronger job security.
- Expanded vacation.
- Birth-control coverage.
- And more!
Facing a giant — and winning — is no easy feat. It takes tenacity and a lot of determination, but it’s not the only success worth celebrating. As our members at small stores have shown, even a tiny workforce has big struggles and big aspirations and needs a union. During the COVID crisis alone, staff at two small, beloved, local boutiques joined UFCW 1518.
Unions Protect Local
At Matchstick Coffee shops, the employees’ fight for fairness was a proxy for a much bigger battle brewing against sexism, racism and abuse, which would have been nearly impossible to crush without a union.
It all started when former baristas, bakers and other staff launched a private Instagram account to swap stories about their horrific experiences with the former owner. Then, in 2021, current staff joined the chorus, calling for real, lasting change. Their bold and brave organizing move to join UFCW 1518 paid off. In July of 2021, they negotiated a strong collective agreement that not only introduced better wages, a health spending account, and 3 weeks of vacation, but also Joint Labour Management Meetings to promote a more harmonious relationship between management and employees.
The organizing drive at Cartems Donuts was an entirely different story. When the bakery’s Vancouver staff came to UFCW 1518, they mostly agreed that Cartems is a pretty great place to work. That didn’t stop them from organizing though. And why should it? There’s always room to make a job better and fairer, and there’s always room for democracy in the workplace, especially at a shop that claims to be built on “smiles” and “conversation.”
A truly local business supports locals, which must include the staff that keep it running. Both the Matchstick and Cartems organizing drives prove that everyone should have a say in their workplace. Cartems is a reminder that workers need a way to hold their employer accountable to their values, while Matchstick is a reminder that just because a business promotes itself as artisanal doesn’t stop it from acting like the next big corporate chain. Only union power can do that!
As more shops — in particular, grocers — jump onto the “buy local, eat organic, self-care, think green” bandwagon, working people might find themselves in different situations, but the best course of action always is to unionize!
Are you a grocery worker and want to ensure local grocers support locals? Join UFCW 1518 at ufcw1518.com/join-us.