UFCW 1518 presented its comprehensive, evidence-based proposal package March 5, only to have Sobeys return to the bargaining table March 6 with no response. This followed several days of reviewing and discussing Sobeys’ financial and operational situation.
“Thousands of hours went into our proposal package,” said President Ivan Limpright. “Last summer, the Action Team conducted an extensive fact finding tour of every store in the province, gathering data and talking to members. We also hired retail analysts to prepare an audit of the BC grocery market and develop a recovery plan for Sobeys.”
Limpright continued: “In the fall, we collected thousands bargaining ideas and proposals from members in our digital outreach campaign. And in November we hosted 200 stewards and activists at our bargaining conference, where they evaluated bargaining priorities and looked for solutions to common problems.”
The bargaining committee, which consists of eight Safeway members, refined the data into an innovative set of interest-based proposals designed to boost sales, reduce costs and regain lost market share, Limpright explained. “We’re quite literally in this together. If the company doesn’t thrive, our members don’t either. But Sobeys didn’t seem prepared to seriously tackle their problems from a place of experience and knowledge. So we did it for them.”
According to Limpright, Sobeys must be prepared to engage in meaningful dialogue about the union’s proposals in order to fulfill their obligation to bargain in good faith. “I want to get a settlement. To get there, the company has to talk to us. Both sides need to sit down and talk about their problems, and how we might solve them together. That’s collective bargaining.”
Limpright said he is hopeful progress can be made when bargaining resumes next week. “We came with solutions but all Sobeys wants to talk about is poverty concessions. That tune has got to change if they want to fix this mess.”