UFCW 1518 met with Overwaitea Food Group last week as negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement continued. The contract renewal deadline is March 31, midway through a 10-year deal.
“We had further discussions about management structure, pharmacy-related matters, steward recognition, probationary period, and scheduling,” said President Ivan Limpright. “We’ve made some progress, but we need to see more.”
UFCW 1518 represents about 10,000 members working at Save-On-Foods stores across the province.
“Look, the union and the company have met 32 times since bargaining started back in February. We should be farther along, but at times the conversations are difficult,” Limpright explained. The slow pace is due in part to the interest-based approach to bargaining, he said, a process that both parties committed to in negotiating the 2013 agreement. Interest-based bargaining is a negotiation strategy in which parties collaborate to find solutions to common problems. It focuses on developing mutually beneficial agreements based on the interests of both parties.
Over the last two months, the parties have broken into sub-committees and working groups to tackle a range of topics, including those identified by members during the union’s #MembersFirst bargaining outreach campaign last fall. Members submitted thousands of bargaining ideas, solutions and proposals, which the bargaining committee presented to the employer, including:
- Sexual Harassment
- Growing Our Future
- Health & Safety
- Future Opportunities
- Transfer Opportunities & Job Vacancy Postings
- Shop Steward Rights
- Key Personnel issues & Management Structure
- Workplace Improvements
- Pharmacy & Central Fill
- Silo Departments (ECommerce, Restaurant, Wine, Coffee Bar)
- Quarterly Review & Store Acquisitions (former Safeway and Thrifty Foods)
- Conversion Stores (former Cooper’s & PriceSmart)
- Improvements to Wages & Benefits
“We’re not there yet, but we’re verging on monetary discussions. That’s when things will heat up,” said Limpright. “Make no mistake, we’ll be representing the will of our members at the table. They’ve told us loud and clear what they want, what they need, and quite frankly, what they deserve.”
Bargaining continues next week.