UFCW 1518 shows union Pride!

Summer’s finally here and with it, Pride season! Thousands of British Columbians will celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and two-spirit community with festivities and parades.

UFCW 1518 works hard to be a supportive ally to our members who identify with the LGBTQ2+ community. The union offers a free online course for members and their families about building inclusion in the workplace. Another resource is a guide to creating local Pride committees, which explains the importance of the labour movement’s participation in Pride activities, and how to build allyship through education and member engagement.

In 2012, UFCW Canada signed a mutual support agreement with EGALE Canada to recognize a shared commitment to equality, diversity and social justice. Together with EGALE Canada and the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, UFCW Canada advocated for the legal protection of transgender people.

This advocacy contributed to the passage of Bill C-16, which adds protection of gender identity and expression to the Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code, offering another reason for celebration this year. “Providing transgender people with the same protections under the law that other Canadians enjoy is a significant victory,” comments Ivan Limpright, president of UFCW 1518. “Trans people suffer discrimination in all areas but particularly in their work lives, where they experience double the unemployment rate as the general population. We need to keep doing all we can ensure they are treated fairly and with respect.”

The UFCW 1518 Executive Board is organizing members to walk in the parade in the following locations:

July 8 Prince George

July 9 Victoria

August 6 Vancouver Pride

September 3 Kootenay Pride

 

 

UFCW raises over $2 million for leukemia research

Last year, about 2,000 Canadians died from leukemia. But thanks to the gargantuan fundraising efforts of UFCW locals across the country, researchers fighting the disease can move ever closer toward a cure.

“Our commitment to combating leukemia goes all the way back to 1985,” explains Ivan Limpright, president of UFCW 1518. “That’s when UFCW folks across Canada pledged to work together to support the research, education, and outreach efforts of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC).” Beating leukemia has been a focal point of UFCW’s charitable efforts ever since, Limpright adds.

This year’s tally was announced at the Annual UFCW Canada Leukemia Gala, held in Toronto last week. From bake sales and bowl-a-thons to bottle drives and barbeques, UFCW locals collectively raised a whopping $2,516,951 for the Society.

“UFCW members and locals have always given back. They understand that fighting for what’s right doesn’t only happen in the workplace. It happens in the communities where we live,” Limpright comments. “Our members are tremendously generous with their time and energy when it comes raising public awareness about leukemia and supporting those suffering from blood cancers.”

The gala honoured Dr. David Spanner with the UFCW Canada Award for Leukemia Research. Dr. Spanner’s work focuses on improving treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – the most common adult leukemia in Canada. According to UFCW Canada president Paul Meinema, the funds raised by the union help more Canadians win their battle against the disease. “That’s why our union will continue to fight side by side with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.”

Over the past three decades, UFCW Canada has raised $38,890,691 for leukemia research and outreach, making it the largest annual supporter of the Society’s life-saving efforts. “As a union, we have a long history of standing together to create a better quality of life – not just for our members and their families but for everyone,” says Limpright. “So it makes sense that we work as hard as we do to support this important cause.”

To date UFCW Canada has raised $38,890,691 for the LLSC, making our union their largest annual supporter in the ongoing fight against blood cancers.

Qayqayt Chief offers traditional welcome at union meeting

For Chief Rhonda Larrabee, fairness was at the heart of her search for her heritage.

Only discovering her First Nations roots when she was 24, Larrabee became the first documented member of the Qayqayt  (Ka-kite) First Nation since 1951, when it had been placed on the Inactive General List of Reserves. Today Larrabee is Chief of the Qayqayt, whose traditional territory is in New Westminster. Under her leadership, the Qayqayt have reclaimed their fishing rights and are seeking the re-establishment of a permanent reserve.

Chief Larrabee shared some of her story when she offered a traditional welcome to UFCW 1518’s quarterly union meeting on June 5 in New Westminster. “I was a unionized worker as a government employee, so I understand how unions fight for fairness,” she told about 75 members. “Everyone deserves a living wage, benefits and job security.” First Nations across Canada are seeking fairness through the reconciliation process, and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. According to Larrabee, learning about the history and culture of First Nations people is an important part of that process. “We need your support to preserve the legacy of our ancestors, as well as our future.”

After Chief Larrabee offered her welcome, Executive Assistant Patrick Johnson delivered the President’s Report. Johnson began with the retail food sector, reporting good news at Overwaitea Food Group, where important strides have been made with stores on Quarterly Review. The Save On store in Vernon recovered frozen wages and the Salmon Arm store came off Quarterly Review entirely, with more stores expected to follow. He noted the continued success of union representative Ronda Melbourne, who is working in Save On stores to perform schedule audits and recover lost wages from the employer.

Johnson acknowledged the picture was not so rosy when it comes to Sobeys, noting UFCW 1518’s ongoing concern about the financial state of some Safeway stores due to  mismanagement at the local and national level. “Sobeys has taken a different approach that the former owners when it comes to labour relations and the operation of stores. This has proven detrimental to the long term interests of all of us – and retail sales,” he comments. With bargaining for retail foods beginning this fall, members have an opportunity to identify the issues important to them, and to help shape the union’s strategy. Johnson encouraged members interested in attending the upcoming bargaining conference to speak to their union representative.

In other bargaining news, the new unit at First United Church in the Downtown Eastside ratified their first ever collective agreement in March, achieving a living wage for all members. In April, the only unionized Canadian Tire in British Columbia won big with a solid new contract and a 12.5 percent wage increase. Members working in the warehouse at Grand & Toy, ratified a four-year contract with numerous gains, including a 9.6 percent wage hike. Bargaining continues in the food processing sector and at Shopper Drug Mart.

There were also some important organizing victories. Last May, workers at nine Island Pharmacy stores voted to join UFCW 1518 after a long and challenging organizing drive. The Community Connections in Kelowna, which provides services for those who live with a developmental disability, was brought into the master agreement in March. “CSSEA is an established collective agreement with full benefits and pension, so this was a great triumph for our members” says Johnson.

Johnson announced a new initiative for community health members, which includes a listening exercise and a campaign to raise awareness about the issues faced by home care workers. “UFCW 1518 was the first union to organize home care workers. We understand not only the critical nature of home care, but also the vulnerability of these workers, who often find themselves working alone and facing violent or unsafe conditions,” he states. “We will do what it takes to ensure our community health members are protected and acknowledged as the professionals that they are.” This includes developing a new occupational health and safety training course for community health members, which will run in the fall.

The next union meeting is September 11 at 7pm at the main office, 350 Columbia St., New Westminster. All members welcome!

Sobeys threatens 20 Safeway stores with Quarterly Review

Late yesterday afternoon, Sobeys informed UFCW 1518 that they want to place 20 Safeway stores on Quarterly Review.

The Quarterly Review process was established to improve the performance of stores that are unprofitable and losing significant money. It is intended be a joint dialogue between the union and the company in order to avoid store closures and save jobs.

Union leadership responded swiftly to Sobeys’ announcement: “We are appalled at this attempted assault on the wages and benefits of our members,” states President Ivan Limpright “The Quarterly Review process is not a backdoor to to renegotiate the collective agreement on a store-by-store basis. This looks and feels like an attempt to bully our members just before bargaining is set to re-open.”

Adds Limpright, “We are not opposed to the Quarterly Review process but we will oppose all attempts to abuse it.”

The mismanagement of Safeway stores has been a concern since Sobeys purchased Canada Safeway in 2013, says Limpright. “Our members work hard, day in and day out, to serve their customers. But they can’t overcome the impact of Sobeys’ chronic mismanagement of the Safeway stores. And they shouldn’t be made to pay for Sobeys’ mistakes. It’s not right.”

The stores Sobeys is targeting for quarterly review are:

#182/4963 Powell River #90/4934 English Bay Vancouver
#121/4944 Lougheed Mall Burnaby #33/4907 City Square Vancouver
#92/4935 Strawberry Hills Surrey #138/4949 Blundell Richmond
#1/4900 Surrey Central #89/4933 Sahali Kamloops
#184/4964 Newton Town Centre Surrey #14/4903 Sunshine Hills Delta
#62/4920 Fleetwood Surrey #7/4902 Dilworth Kelowna
#161/4957 Broadmoor Richmond #75/4926 100 Mile House
#20/4904 Sunwood Square Coquitlam #2/4901 West Broadway Vancouver
#70/4924 Trail #36/4908 Robson Vancouver
#84/4931 Collingwood Vancouver #179/4962 Trenant Park Ladner

 

According to UFCW 1518’s legal counsel, the Quarterly Review language in the Safeway Operations collective agreement cannot be used to undercut members’ rights or subvert the collective bargaining process.

President Limpright promised Sobeys a fight if the company continued down this path: “We don’t view this attempt to trigger the Quarterly Review provisions as lawful and we are going to fight Sobeys every step of the way. It’s clear that Sobeys does not value our members’ contributions and that’s got to stop. Enough is enough.

UFCW 1518 will keep members informed of any new developments via weekly emails and the website, as well as through union representatives visiting stores.

Read the letter Sobeys wrote to UFCW 1518 here.

Read UFCW 247’s response here.