Sobeys workers are
READY TO FIGHT

After months of insulting wage offers (less than 1% and no increase in some years), workers at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy are ready to fight for what they deserve.

FAQ

Here are the latest answers to the most frequent questions we have been receiving. You can also read the Strike Vote FAQ in Punjabi.

Strike Vote FAQ

A strike authorization vote authorizes the union to have the option to serve strike notice if we are unable to reach an agreement. It is also a strong show of solidarity for the bargaining committee, helping them to return to the bargaining table with a strong mandate from members. The bargaining committee can then push Sobeys to make a better wage offer.

The bargaining committee has unanimously agreed that NOW is the time to take a strike authorization vote. They are calling for members to vote before the committee returns to the bargaining table on September 20 and show Sobeys that they are united in fighting for a fair contract.

The strike authorization vote will be held online from Tuesday, September 12 at 9 am PDT to Thursday, September 14 at 3 pm PDT.

You will receive your voting credentials to your email address on Tuesday, September 12 at 9 am PDT.

Anyone who does not receive their voting credentials on September 12 can call the union office at 1-800-661-3708 during our extended office hours to request them, after verifying their identity.

Anyone requiring in-person assistance to vote can come to the UFCW 1518 office at 350 Columbia St. in New Westminster. The office will be open from 8:30 am to 7 pm PDT on Tuesday, September 12 and Wednesday, September 13. Regular office hours resume on Thursday, September 14—you can come vote at the office until 3 pm PDT.

All UFCW 1518 members who work at Safeway stores and FreshCo Pharmacies in Zone 1 (Lower Mainland to Whistler) will have the right to vote. Voting YES means that you support your bargaining committee’s recommendation to authorize a strike and demand a better contract than what Sobeys is offering.

Due to existing language in your collective agreement, members outside of Zone 1, won’t be able to participate in the current strike authorization vote. However, you will have many opportunities to support fellow union members, who will rely on your solidarity to fight for the best possible deal for all Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy workers. We will share more details in the coming weeks. 

No, a strike authorization vote is a step in escalation and does not mean we will automatically issue a strike notice. Ultimately, our committee is fighting for a fair deal for Safeway members. After the strike authorization vote, we will return to the bargaining table to show Sobeys we are serious about fighting for a fair deal—but our goal is to reach an agreement without having to serve strike notice.

A strike is when union members collectively withdraw their labour. Rather than going to work, union members will form a picket line outside of their workplace and refuse to return to their jobs until the employer puts forward a fair contract offer.

As workers, our labour is our power. An effective strike shows our power to the employer and puts pressure on them to negotiate fairly and meet our demands.

Yes, UFCW 1518 members will receive picket pay in the event a strike, so long as they show up to their picket shifts:

  • $450 per week for 24 hours of picketing
  • $350 per week for 16 hours of picketing

While there is a required minimum number of hours to receive picket pay, members are encouraged, where reasonable, to contribute more hours on the picket line ­‑­ roughly the number of hours they would typically work when possible.

Alternative duties may be available for members who are unable to walk the picket line.

We don’t know exactly how long a dispute could last—no one does. But we are several steps away from this.

Ultimately, bargaining ends with an agreement—one that both sides can ratify (that means the Employer and the Union members). And if that happens before a dispute… great! If not, a dispute may be necessary, but it will ultimately end when both sides reach a tentative agreement that ratifies.

If our strike successfully shows the employer that we will not back down until we get what we deserve, the hope is that the strike will end with a better contract that addresses members’ priorities.

Our union will coordinate other ways for members who can’t formally strike to get involved and show their solidarity through other kinds of actions. 

If another union (such as UFCW 247 or the Bakers Union) serves strike notice in your store, UFCW 1518 members would not cross this picket line, and would receive the equivalent picket pay. We will keep you informed if this happens in your store.

No, for international students, there will be no impact. If there is a dispute, you are eligible to work up to 20 hours per week but not required to do so. You would be entitled to up to 20 hours of picket pay a week.

If you hold a work permit and there is a dispute, there is no impact on your work permit if you are on strike or locked out. You would also be entitled to receive picket pay. Depending on the nature of your work permit, you may be able to work for a different employer during any labour dispute.

No! Your vote is confidential! So unless you share how you voted, no one will know.

We will provide members with all of the information they need to make an informed decision well ahead of job action.

Union representatives will make frequent store visits to keep members updated and answer your questions, and as always we will continue to keep members updated via emails, telephone town halls, social media, texts, and the Sobeys Bargaining Page.

Ensure that your contact info with us is up-to-date. You can update your info with union reps or members of the bargaining committee when you see them in-store, or you can send your full name, workplace name and number, Employee ID, email address, and cell phone number to reception@ufcw1518.com

We are forming a new Contract Support Team that can help coordinate members and keep them updated in the event we need to prepare to take job action

If you are interested in joining our Contract Support Team, click here.

Make sure you are receiving communications from your union and don’t hesitate to be in touch with your union rep to make sure you know the latest information.

Wear your Respect Retail Workers pin at work

Bargaining FAQ

Members have consistently reported that they would like more flexibility and increases for therapeutic health benefits such as massage, physiotherapy, and so on. We have put forward proposals to improve these parts of your contract, but you should also know that the Joint Health Benefits Trust is looking into ways to improve these benefits through the structure of the plans. We will keep you informed on progress both at and away from the bargaining table when it comes to your benefits.

At this point, Sobeys has not discussed buyouts or severance. However, we will work to ensure that any severance does not come at the cost of the members who want to stay.

We won the arbitration with Sobeys, and they are working to calculate the payment owed to members. We will let members know when to expect their pay once it has been calculated.

There are pharmacy members sitting on your Bargaining Committee, and we have convened a special Pharmacy Advisory Committee, so you are always represented. We have proposed substantial increases plus an increase to the top rate.

These are just some of the protections and contract improvements that your bargaining committee in negotiations.

Higher Pay:
  • Significant wage increases, including off-scale, for all members
  • New opportunities for current members to move into Grid A
  • Employee discount language
  • Significant, equitable wage increases for Department Managers and 2nd Assistant Store Managers.
  • Higher Shift Differentials
  • Better cost-of-living adjustments for all members
  • Greater meal allowance for overtime
Power Over Shifts & Work-Life Balance
  • The choice to work four nine-hour shifts/week OR four 10/hr shifts/week
  • Schedule-posting language that combats favouritism
  • 48-hour notice for schedule changes
  • No date-of-hire limitations placed on maximization of hours
Benefits & Pension Plan
  • Grid B Benefits: Increases to employer contributions
  • Grid A Benefits: Increase to benefits
  • 1518 Pension Plan: Increases to employer contributions
Gender-neutral language​
  • We are seeking gender-neutral language in your contract
Paid Time-Off​
  • Improvement to paid personal time – accrues over time
  • Increase to paid sick days
More Shop Steward Rights
  • Language that enables union activists to be there when you need them―in meetings for new staff, when schedules are reviewed and more.
Bridging the Gap Between Grid As & Bs to Advance Retention, Recruitment and Staff Synergy
  • Provisions for Grid Bs to become full-time
  • Seniority rights for Grid B if they’re transferred
  • Fair rotation within classifications for Grid B
  • Consecutive-days-off protections for Grid B
Honouring Diversity as a Strength
  • Language around holidays, leaves and time-offs that is more inclusive of all workers, from all backgrounds.

Two (2) Bargaining Surveys

More than 1,000 members filled out two comprehensive surveys on monetary and non-monetary bargaining priorities

Focus Groups

Members had opportunities to join focus groups and share their experiences, highlight issues in their units, and outline their expectations for bargaining.

Retail Conference

More than 200 members from across the retail sector met in November 2022 to learn about bargaining, share feedback, and bring their concerns forward.

Strike FAQ–Punjabi

Strike FAQ–Farsi (سوالات متداول درباره اعتصاب)

The Latest

What people are saying

UFCW 1518 members at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy are ready to fight for what they deserve at the bargaining table. And the public is on their side!

Check out these messages of support, and if you’d like to record your own, send your video to communications@ufcw1518.com.

Join the
CONTRACT SUPPORT TEAM

Sign up to help the Sobeys Bargaining Committee fight for a fair contract.

In the event of job action, Contract Support Team members can sign up to become Picket Captains and help us coordinate the membership to show up strong on the picket lines!

Meet the Team

Winning respect, fairness, and good working conditions at Sobeys will be a team effort. Here are some of the folks leading the charge by amplifying their coworker’s voices at the bargaining table.

Angela Crosato (Safeway 4908, Vancouver) and her wife split their time between New Westminster and Seattle. She enjoys writing, editing, reading, travel and politics. Angela has been a Shop Steward for over 20 years, and has volunteered for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival and the Women in Film & TV Festival.
Shiela Scarr (Safeway 4912, Langley) has been with her current Safeway store for 11 years. She does file maintenance and front-end cashier work, including training the new cashiers. Shiela also serves on the Health and Safety committee. She has a good sense of humor. This will be Shiela’s first time bargaining.
Armin Reyes (Safeway 4996, Reline) is a 40-year senior Sobeys member who has worked in a number of stores and different roles. Through that experience he has met a lot of great people. Most employees know him from his involvement with the Safeway Employees Association and the Safeway Slo-pitch League.
Jennifer Brown (Safeway 4966, Vancouver) has worked at Safeway for 29 years, currently in File Maintenance, and has been a Shop Steward for 20+ years. She is passionate about the impact of politics on a personal level, worker’s rights, and disability and identity issues.
Teresa-Lyne Dziedzic (Safeway 4920, Surrey)  has been a pharmacy assistant at Safeway for 24 years. Throughout the years she has watched many changes happen within the company. She considers herself to be attentive to the needs of her fellow employees while being aware of the needs of the company.
Peter Dombrowski (Safeway 4920, Surrey) started working at Safeway in 1987 and has been a Service Clerk, Cashier, General Clerk and Reline Crew Member. He became a Shop Steward and has served on the UFCW 1518 Executive Board since 2019. This will be his third time on the Bargaining Committee at Sobeys.
Leslie Ramsperger (Safeway 4911, Burnaby) has been with Safeway in the Starbucks Department for almost 16 years. She is the Assistant Operator in her kiosk and a new Shop Steward in her store. She comes to the Bargaining table passionate about getting the best contract possible for her family, best friends, and her Safeway family.
Marlene White (Safeway 4977, Coquitlam) has been a Shop Steward at her location for over 4 years. She’s a huge advocate for workers and ensuring their rights are upheld. She promises to work hard at the Bargaining Table to bring the results that she and her coworkers so desperately need.