UFCW 1518 has filed its proposals with Special Officer Vince Ready as the Section 106 proceedings continue. President Limpright appealed to the provincial government to intervene after negotiations between the union and Sobeys, parent company of Safeway, stalled last March. Minister of Labour Harry Bains invoked a little used section of the BC Labour Relations Code to appoint a Special Officer to assist in resolving the dispute. Under Section 106, the Special Officer has the power to mediate, arbitrate and issue binding orders.
The proposals were filed “without prejudice” due to the union’s legal position that the reopener provision in the Safeway collective agreement is not intended to be used as a vehicle to gut the agreement. Recommendations issued by the Special Officer in the summer contained deep concessions that troubled the union.
“We also don’t agree that the new banner language in the Safeway collective agreement applies to the conversion of existing stores. It is our position that Sobeys’ desire to introduce FreshCo into BC by opening in locations of former Safeway stores is a conversion, which means the new banner language doesn’t apply,” commented President Ivan Limpright. “It is essential, especially in the face of Sobeys’ attempts to roll back our hard won gains, that we defend every legal right we have.”
The union’s proposals are organized in three documents and contain commentary and justifications regarding the 2018 reopener, Safeway stores converting to FreshCo, Sobeys’ discount banner, and a collective agreement for FreshCo. President Limpright said he expects the union will supplement its proposals with the filing of additional legal submissions in the near future, after which point, Sobeys will be given an opportunity to respond.
“I know this has been a long and frustrating process. I’m grateful for the ongoing support and patience of our members as we work our hardest to protect their interests in these difficult times,” he added. “I will let members know as soon as I have more information and will continue to provide you with regular updates via email and our website.”