Significant wage increases in second contract for First United Church

About 70 members working at First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside ratified a strong collective agreement last week. The three-year deal built on the many improvements gained in their first agreement, with wage increases that bring the shelter resource workers and others closer to parity with those in the community health sector who perform similar work.

Most classifications will see significant wage increases over the life of the agreement, while a handful will receive lump sum payments. “When they first joined the union, our commitment in negotiating the first collective agreement was to ensure that the most underpaid workers would receive the largest wage increase. This was something the members felt strongly about: they didn’t want anyone left behind,” explained UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “In this round of bargaining, we continued to make gains in wages, so much so that First United Church is preparing to apply for recognition as a living wage employer. That’s an important accomplishment.”

The agreement also includes a comprehensive health and welfare package that is funded 100 percent by the employer, including full coverage for prescription drugs and paraprofessional services.

First United Church serves vulnerable people living on the DTES, including those who experience homelessness, extreme poverty and mental health issues and addictions. It offers emergency shelter, meals, legal advocacy and assistance finding social housing, as well as a range of programs designed to enhance health and dignity.

President Novak thanked the bargaining committee, made up of shop stewards Justin Juco and Margaret Edgar as well as Andrea Linsley and Sonia Marino, assisted by Director Kim Balmer and union representative Stephanie Smith.  “Their commitment and solidarity throughout negotiations were key to achieving such a solid collective agreement.”

Worker solidarity nets workplace wins

“When workers stand together with a union behind them, good things happen.” That’s what President Kim Novak said about two recent wins for workers spearheaded by UFCW 1518.

Just last week, the union was successful in helping workers at Fairmont Chateau Whistler win back $85,000 in gratuities wrongfully withheld by their employer. The luxury hotel had been taking 20 percent of the tips earned by banquet workers and using them to subsidize the wages of sales managers.

Banquet workers contacted the union for help in 2018 after Fairmont management rolled out a new tipping structure in which gratuities given by hotel guests to banquet workers would be withheld. Employer theft of gratuities is illegal thanks to changes made to the Employment Standards Act by the BC NDP last spring. British Columbia was the last province in Canada to provide legal protection for worker-earned gratuities.

Despite workers raising their concerns with management multiple times, Fairmont Chateau Whistler refused to stop withholding tips, said Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. “These workers tried in vain to address the issue themselves. But they couldn’t make the employer listen or obey the law. That’s when they called us.”

This shows why unions are needed more than ever, especially with the rise of precarious work and the growth of the gig economy, Secretary-Treasurer Johnson added. “When workers lack the collective voice and power of a union, it’s much easier for employers to break the law and exploit their employees. As a result of our advocacy and the subsequent investigation by the Employment Standards Branch, Fairmont Chateau Whistler will voluntarily repay about 60 of its employees $85,000. That is significant and a real win for those workers.”

Workers employed by Fairmont Chateau Whistler between May 30, 2019 and August 30, 2019 are eligible for repayment. If an employee believes that they have not been paid their full entitlement, they can file a complaint.

Last year, workers at River’s Reach Pub in New Westminster contacted UFCW 1518 for help in addressing persistent problems with sexual harassment and bullying. They asked for the union’s help, and after a successful organizing drive, they became members of UFCW 1518. Last week, workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying their first collective agreement. “Workers in the hospitality industry are notoriously vulnerable to sexual harassment from customers and exploitation by employers,” said President Novak. “In their first collective agreement, our members at River’s Reach got clear language to protect them from this. That’s an important move towards creating a harmonious and safe workplace.”

If you are interested in joining UFCW 1518, you can contact us confidentially here!

Union welcomes Uber & Lyft but says they must obey the law

Uber and Lyft were officially welcomed to British Columbia today when the Passenger Transportation Board approved their licenses, prompting UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak to renew the union’s commitment to fighting for the rights of ride hailing drivers.

“British Columbians want and deserve safe, convenient and accessible transit. We welcome Uber and Lyft to beautiful BC, but we absolutely expect them to comply with the law – both to ensure safety for the public and to provide basic labour protections for drivers,” President Novak said.

President Novak added that ride hailing giants like Uber and Lyft set the standard in the industry and must treat their workers fairly. “It is imperative that drivers are classified as employees so that they have access to minimum labour protections under the Employment Standards Act,” President Novak continued.

According to Laird Cronk, president of the BC Federation of Labour, people “want to know that the workers providing their transit are treated fairly.” Cronk explained that when ride hailing companies misclassify their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, “workers lose access to basic employment rights, like the ability to unionize, access to minimum wage, vacation pay and WCB coverage in the event of a workplace injury.”

UFCW 1518 filed a complaint against Uber and Lyft at the BC Labour Relations Board last December, contending that their employment contracts violate provincial labour law. The union attended mediation with both companies and that matter is still before the board. Earlier this month, Uber Black drivers in Toronto applied to become members of UFCW Canada, making them the first ride hailing drivers to attempt to unionize. “UFCW 1518 will continue to be a leader in the fight for fairness for drivers, and in setting the standard for gig economy and precarious workers,” President Novak affirmed.

UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 24,000 members working in the community health, service and hospitality, retail, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia.

Community Health Workers win vacation time grievance

UFCW 1518 members working part time as community health workers can accrue more vacation time as a result of a win at the BC Labour Relations Board.

Arbitrator Ken Saunders ruled that Northern Health Authority’s policy capping the vacation time of regular part time employees and preventing them from earning vacation time when they worked casual and temporary assignments violated the collective agreement. The policy allowed regular part time employees to earn vacation pay on extra hours worked, but denied them the ability to take it as vacation time off work.

“This is an important win for our members working in community health. Their work as care aides and community health workers is incredibly important but very demanding, and can often take a toll on mental and physical well being,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “If they earn more vacation time, they should be able to take it as time off from work.”

The policy was challenged when the BC Government and Service Employees Union (BCGEU) filed four policy grievances against the health authority. The union argued that according to the collective agreement, vacation pay is a benefit, and that “all time worked shall be credited to the employee for the purpose of seniority and benefit accumulation.” Arbitrator Saunders agreed with that interpretation, ordering Northern Health Authority to change their policy and compensate regular part timers who requested and were denied vacation under the policy.

The ruling applies to all community health workers covered by the Health Service and Support – Community Subsector Collective Agreement, including 2500 members belonging to UFCW 1518.

Rivers Reach Pub: VOTE YES this Thursday, January 23

Voting Information:

  • Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020
  • Time: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Location: River’s Reach Pub parking lot
  • Contact: Ronda Melbourne (604.454.7185 or rmelbourne@ufcw1518.com)

 


Get the facts!

 

  • Fact – By voting YES, you will gain the power to collectively negotiate with your employer. There’s power in numbers! You and your co-workers form the union and union staff are here to assist in your fight for fairness.
  • Fact – Unionized workers make more money than non-union workers, even after paying union dues
  • Fact – Your union dues will cost you no more than 2% of your wages. You do not pay anything until you vote to accept your union contract. Union dues are also 100% tax-deductible!

Why should you vote YES? 

  1. Your union will ensure that you are being paid overtime properly. Together we can negotiate when OT takes effect and how much it increases by. For example, 1.5 your rate for hours above 8 hours and double your rate for hours above 10 hours a day.
  2. You shouldn’t have to wonder when your next raise is coming. With a union, you have a say in your wage progression; from how raises are applied to how much the increases are.
  3. It isn’t fair you can’t get a second job because you are essentially on-call without any compensation. Your union will try to negotiate standby pay for you.
  4. Short notice schedule changes without compensation isn’t fair! Your Union will try to create schedule and shift change language that works for you.

 

You know what changes should be made to make your job better, from better pay to paid sick days and improving scheduling. UFCW 1518 staff is here to assist you in enhancing your jobs but this is only possible if you vote YES!

 Learn more about this campaign at ufcw1518.com/whistlerworkers

Community Savings trailblazes with paid leave for domestic violence

The credit union for working people in British Columbia has voluntarily given 10 paid days of leave for employees experiencing domestic violence. Community Savings Credit Union, which has staff represented by UFCW 1518, signed a letter of agreement that will be included in the collective agreement providing for the paid leave.

The move follows a campaign by the provincial labour movement calling on government to make the paid leave mandatory. Workers Deserve Better is an initiative of the BC Federation of Labour that pushes for legislation to support workers facing domestic and sexual violence by mandating 10 days of paid leave. The BCFED represents more than 500,000 workers from affiliated unions across the province.

“Without paid leave for domestic violence, workers – mostly women – cannot easily escape dangerous situations, protect their families or get back on their feet,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “Paid leave is critical, but it needs to become law in order for all workers to be protected.” British Columbia is one of the only provinces in Canada without mandated paid leave for workers facing domestic and sexual violence. According to Statistics Canada, sexual assault is the only violent crime on the rise in Canada.

“We know that intimate partner violence disproportionately affects women and working-aged Canadians,” President Novak continued. “We applaud Community Savings for showing leadership and including this paid leave in the collective agreement outside of bargaining. It demonstrates that they understand the seriousness of the issue, and that they value the health and safety of their workers. We encourage the government to follow their lead.”

Founded in 1944, Community Savings Credit Union continues to be guided by its founding motto of “people helping people.” Its goal is to provide the working community “a fair opportunity at a better life by empowering them with banking products and investments that are always in their best interest.” [source]

 

Whistler: VOTE YES this Monday, January 13!

Voting Information:

  • Date: Monday, January 13, 2020
  • Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Location: Main Pumphouse
  • Contact: Donalda Beeson (250.640.3580 or dbeeson@ufcw1518.com)


Get the facts!

 

  • Fact – By voting YES, you will gain the power to collectively negotiate with your employer. There’s power in numbers! You and your co-workers form the union and union staff are here to assist in your fight for fairness.
  • Fact – Unionized workers make more money than non-union workers, even after paying union dues
  • Fact – Your union dues will cost you no more than 2% of your wages. You do not pay anything until you vote to accept your union contract. Union dues are also 100% tax-deductible!

Why should you vote YES? 

  1. Your union will ensure that you are being paid overtime properly. Together we can negotiate when OT takes effect and how much it increases by. For example, 1.5 your rate for hours above 8 hours and double your rate for hours above 10 hours a day.
  2. You shouldn’t have to wonder when your next raise is coming. With a union, you have a say in your wage progression; from how raises are applied to how much the increases are.
  3. It isn’t fair you can’t get a second job because you are essentially on-call without any compensation. Your union will try to negotiate standby pay for you.
  4. Short notice schedule changes without compensation isn’t fair! Your Union will try to create schedule and shift change language that works for you.

 

You know what changes should be made to make your job better, from better pay to paid sick days and improving scheduling. UFCW 1518 staff is here to assist you in enhancing your jobs but this is only possible if you vote YES!

 Learn more about this campaign at ufcw1518.com/whistlerworkers

Union gains improvements for MEC workers in first contract!

UFCW 1518 members working at Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Vancouver and Victoria locations have won significant improvements in their first ever collective agreement. The parties entered mediation after negotiations between the union and MEC stalled late last year.

Yesterday, the mediator imposed a first collective agreement that includes a wage hike for all employees, in the majority of cases up to six percent by 2021. Following the release of the mediator’s decision, MEC announced that workers in its non-unionized locations in British Columbia will also receive a wage increase. “Because workers at MEC in Vancouver and Victoria voted to join a union, MEC employees in all BC locations will receive another wage increase effective immediately,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak.

But the union advantage is about more than higher wages, President Novak affirmed. “It is about bringing fairness to work and improving workplace conditions. In a unionized environment, workers have a collective agreement to protect their rights and a union to back them up.” She noted that unionized MEC workers now have shop stewards to represent them as equals to management in case of dispute or discipline; the grievance process enables workers to have their issues fairly addressed; and Joint Labour Management meetings ensure a transparent process for dealing with workplace concerns before they become contract violations.

The first collective agreement also includes retroactive pay to the Vancouver members who did not benefit from a pay increase last August. It  locks in previously held benefit and wage protections, which offers security as well as an important foundation to build from in future negotiations. “We are very proud of the work of our bargaining committee as well as the commitment and solidarity of MEC workers,” said President Novak. This isn’t the first time that the union’s advocacy paid off for all MEC staff – not just those who belong to UFCW 1518, she added. “Barely two weeks after workers at the Vancouver flagship location voted to join our union, MEC announced a 50 cent an hour wage increase for all MEC employees across Canada. That’s power.”

UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson said the union is pleased to have a first contract in effect for the Victoria and Vancouver locations. “Not only did our members keep the benefits they had, they have gained solid improvements. And MEC has implemented many of the same improvements, including an immediate 25 cents per hour increase, for all MEC locations in BC – despite ongoing statements to the public crying the financial blues.”

Workers at the MEC Vancouver location voted to join UFCW 1518 last August and while they were in negotiations for a first collective agreement, workers at the Victoria store also voted to join the union. This led to a better outcome for all staff at the bargaining table, Secretary-Treasurer Johnson commented. “There is strength in numbers. And MEC certainly took notice when a second location voted to join our union – that’s why our members got the wage increase that they did,” he said. “We look forward to the opportunity to represent MEC staff in all BC locations so that workers continue to see even more gains along with the continued success of MEC in our province!”