Low Wage Redress funding coming soon!

About $40 million dollars in funding to address low wages will soon be distributed to community health workers, including about 2000 UFCW 1518 members. The money was gained during negotiations for their new collective agreement, which takes effect April 1.

“Finally, we are working with a cooperative Minister of Health,” said President Kim Novak. “It helps that Minister Dix is determined to fix 16 years of neglect our members and the health care system experienced under the former Liberal government.”

UFCW 1518 belongs to the Community Bargaining association, which bargains on behalf of 10 unions representing 16,000 health care workers across British Columbia.

The low wage redress funding is intended to address the discrepancy in wages between workers in community health and those working in higher paid areas of the health care sector, including facilities. “This funding is different than the comparability monies distributed under the previous collective agreement,” says President Novak. “It will be allocated to a greater number of positions, which is a good thing for our members.”

The Low Wage Redress Committee convened last fall to determine how the $40 million would be allocated. Despite missing its deadline to reach agreement on the allocation of the funding, the committee has made significant progress. “Some matters that were referred to arbitration according to the process outlined in the collective agreement have been settled,” explained President Novak, adding that the committee expects to be finished within the next 30 days. “I know our members have been waiting to hear news about the low wage redress. As soon as the work is complete, we will let them know!”

BC Budget 2019 continues improvements for working people

The BC NDP budget announced this week contains important gains for working families and will make life more affordable for everyone living in the province. Poverty reduction and climate action are two new areas of investment, with continued social spending on child care, housing and public infrastructure, as well as health care and the opioid crisis.

Key for working families is a the BC Child Opportunity Benefit for children under 18, which replaces the existing early childhood tax benefit for children under six years old. The new income-tested benefit will be introduced in October 2020 and pay up to $1,600 per year for one child. Economists expect the Child Opportunity Benefit to reduce the child poverty rate once fully phased in.

Housing continued to be a major focus for the BC NDP, with an expansion of the successful modular housing program to fund 200 additional units beyond the 2000 announced in the 2018 budget. There is also $10 million to establish a provincial rent bank. “While the investment in new housing was at a record level in last year’s BC Budget, the crisis is so severe that more action is still needed,”  said Iglika Ivanova, senior economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

BC Budget 2019 introduced a range of investments to help vulnerable populations impacted by poverty. According to the CCCPA “poverty costs BC between $8.1 and $9.2 billion annually.” [1] Poverty increases risks of diabetes, obesity, and heart and respiratory disease and increases healthcare and criminal justice system costs while lowering school success and productivity.  Increased financial support will go to children in foster care, children with special needs, social and disability assistance, employment training, adult basic education and transit. Additional funding will go to the Employment Standards Branch to update employment standards, which could include money for enforcing workplace rights for non-unionized workers.

The budget also includes $679 million for the CleanBC climate plan, well ahead of other provinces on climate action, but behind in terms of the urgent need to shift to a carbon neutral economy. There are new revenue-sharing agreements with BC First Nations for $297 million as well as a 33 percent increase in capital investment. “As the real estate market cools down and our economy becomes less reliant on real estate, these major new capital investments represent a significant jobs plan—jobs to build and staff new hospitals, community health centres, child care facilities, seniors residences and infrastructure the province needs like new bridges, highways, transit lines and new retrofit programs under the Clean BC climate plan,” Ivanova explained.

Health care funding of $1.3 billion over the next three years includes the addition of new drugs to the PharmaCare program and new money for mental health and addiction services as well as opioid emergency response. “Working people and families struggled due to inadequate social spending under the previous government,” President Kim Novak said. “The measures in this budget that address the housing and child care crises, as well as create good jobs, a strong public health system and a clean economy are long overdue and welcome.”

President Novak added that the elimination of student loan interest as well as MSP will also boost quality of life for UFCW 1518 members. “Since the BC NDP took office in 2017, life for working people and their families has become more affordable. When combined with the power of a collective agreement supporting them at work, life has become better for our members.”

 

Two NEW Q&As for Safeway members

UFCW 1518 has released to NEW Q&A documents for members working at Safeway.

Since Special Officer Vince Ready handed down his decision late last year on the reopener of the Safeway collective agreement as well as his ruling that Sobeys could convert Safeway stores to FreshCo, the union has been working with legal counsel on interpretation issues and pressing the company for more information.

Then Sobeys announced last week that it would convert 5 more Safeway locations to its discount banner FreshCo. “The Ready decision and Sobeys’ conversion announcements have a major impact on our members’ lives,” said President Kim Novak. “That’s why we’ve been pushing Sobeys for details and clarification that our members need in order to decide whether to accept a voluntary buyout, transfer to another Safeway or work at FreshCo and potentially take a buydown and work for less.”

NEW short term disability plan for Save-On-Foods members!

A new short term disability plan for UFCW 1518 members working at Save-On-Foods has now been implemented, after being negotiated by the union during the recent  round of bargaining.

“There’s no doubt this is a very important benefit for our members to have access to and quite frankly it was long overdue. I’m proud we were finally able to achieve it,” said President Kim Novak.

The new disability plan is integrated with employment insurance to provide a disability benefit for a maximum of 26 weeks. It is retroactive to January 1, 2019, which means members who became injured or ill after January 1, 2019 may be eligible. In order to be eligible, a member must:

  • be over the age of 18
  • have worked with Save-On-Foods for six months
  • have averaged 32 hours per week over 13 consecutive weeks.

The employer sent personalized memos to qualified members last week. If members have questions about the disability benefit or require assistance with new claims, they should contact their store Benefits Representative.

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New Q&A on Special Officer Vince Ready’s decision & Sobeys buyout offer

UFCW 1518 released a new Q&A document today for Safeway members in response to questions raised at the information sessions being held across BC to address Special Officer Vince Ready’s decision.

In consultation with legal counsel, UFCW 1518 prepared this Q&A document with all of the information the union has been able to gather to date. “We’re also holding information sessions across the province to meet directly with members, listen to their concerns and answer their questions with the information we have,” said President Kim Novak. “We will continue to send emails, have union representatives in stores and will be setting up telephone town halls when we have more news to report.”

Click here for dates and locations of upcoming Safeway information sessions across BC.

 

Deadline for Safeway closure stores extended

The deadline for Safeway members working at the five stores recently announced for closure and conversion to FreshCo to select their option of buyout, buy down or bumping has been extended to February 28. Last week, parent company Sobeys announced the closure of Safeway stores in Abbotsford, Aldergrove, downtown Chilliwack, Ladner and Maple Ridge for several months of renovations before reopening as FreshCo.

UFCW 1518 members in those stores were handed termination letters as well as “option” letters, which were originally due February 12. “With such short notice to make a very big decision, it was important that we pushed the employer to extend the date,” said President Kim Novak.

The union has just received the seniority list from Sobeys and will make it available to members who need to review it to make their decision of whether to accept Sobeys buyout offer, transfer into another Safeway store or accept a buydown and remain in a FreshCo under a lesser collective agreement.

“We will be scheduling time for members to review the seniority lists with their union representative and will email those times to members in the five stores shortly,” President Novak explained, adding that copies of the seniority lists will be available at the union office in New Westminster for members to review.

“We continue to gather your questions and concerns, consult with our legal counsel and press Sobeys for more information about the buyout offers and FreshCo conversions,” said President Novak. “As always, we will make new information available to you as we receive it.”

Please call 1.800.661.3708 to make an appointment during business hours to review the seniority list at the union office.