Great news for Grocery Workers: Early Vaccination Clinics Begin in Vancouver Coastal Health. Other Regions to Follow.

Today, Vancouver Coastal Health started targeting early COVID-19 vaccination clinics for grocery workers at select stores.

The announcement comes after months of advocacy from UFCW 1518. In January, the union called on the BC government to vaccinate grocery and retail workers early as vaccine doses became more available.

The union has also called on the government to guarantee paid leave for workers to receive vaccines, so no worker needs to worry about losing pay when getting a life-saving vaccine. In April, the government granted this request, ensuring 3 hours of paid leave and job-protected leave for vaccine appointments.

Vancouver Coastal Health will be administering doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to workers over the age of 30 (born in 1991 and earlier) at targeted workplaces in the Lower Mainland.

Stores that have been selected for early vaccination will inform their employees about everything they need to know to get vaccinated early. In the meantime, all workers who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine should register for their vaccination at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register.

UFCW 1518 and Save-On-Foods Call on Government to Prioritize Vaccines for Front-Line Workers

Today, in partnership with Save-On-Foods, UFCW 1518 sent a letter to BC Health Minister Adrian Dix asking him to fulfil his early vaccine commitment to grocery workers.

Since January, UFCW 1518 has been calling on the government to ensure that grocery workers get early access to COVID-19 vaccines. Shortly after we launched this advocacy campaign, the government announced that grocery workers would be granted early vaccine access as extra doses became available.

After the government made their announcement, we began pushing for workers to have guaranteed paid time off to take vaccine appointments. In April, the government answered our call and created this paid time off program, making it easier for grocery workers to take the time they need to get their life-saving vaccine.

You can read our joint letter with Save-On-Foods here.

Paid Time Off for Vaccination Appointments

The Province of British Columbia announced that it is mandating paid time off for all workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

Workers will be able to take a 3-hour paid leave to attend vaccination appointments. This paid leave applies to all doses of the vaccine, not just the first.

UFCW 1518 has been calling on the government to create paid leave for vaccines for several weeks. After granting workers job-protected leave to receive COVID-19 vaccines, paid time off to receive their vaccinations is the next big step in ensuring that workers are protected, and their wages are safeguarded.

“Today’s announcement means a critical barrier has been removed for workers; they no longer have to choose between getting paid at work or getting their life-saving vaccinations,” said UFCW 1518 President, Kim Novak. “This is a big step in the right direction and a big win for workers, especially those who have been working on the front lines throughout this pandemic. They have been hard hit and no longer have to worry about having their pay cheque deducted for getting their vaccines.”

UFCW 1518 thanks BC Labour Minister Harry Bains and the BC Government for acting swiftly on this legislation. UFCW 1518 will continue to advocate for workers to be given every protection against COVID-19.

UFCW 1518 Calls for Gig and App-based Delivery Drivers to Have Free Short-term Parking

UFCW 1518 is calling on BC municipalities to grant free short-term parking to app-based delivery drivers while they work. The request is made in partnership with drivers for Uber Eats, DoorDash, and other platforms who make a living bringing food and other supplies to people during COVID-19.

These workers have told UFCW 1518 that they face significant challenges finding free parking when making deliveries. These drivers’ pay depends on how quickly they can make their deliveries, and expensive parking tickets undercut their already precarious income.

UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak sent a letter to the City Mayors of Vancouver, Victoria, New Westminster, Burnaby and Kelowna asking them to explore options for granting free short-term parking to app-based delivery drivers while they work, so they avoid receiving tickets or resorting to double-parking, which can be dangerous for the drivers and the public.

The letter also went to Minister of Municipal Affairs Josie Osborne, Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming, Minister of Labour Harry Bains, and Parliamentary Secretary for the New Economy Adam Walker.

“I intentionally avoid taking orders in areas with paid parking because I’m worried about parking tickets I can’t afford,” said Kelowna DoorDash driver, Laura (last name withheld). “It’s always hard to find parking spaces close to restaurants, so you either have to risk it and park illegally, or park further away and waste time walking, which may make your delivery late.”

UFCW 1518 is speaking out with app-based delivery workers who lack a union of their own in BC. This request ensures that delivery workers can continue to serve their communities by linking people and businesses without undercutting their earnings. Taking action to protect app-based delivery drivers from excessive parking expenses and fees can make a real difference in these drivers’ lives.

For more information on how gig and contract workers are fighting for fairness in the gig economy, visit us by clicking here.

UFCW 1518 Welcomes Cannabis Industry Workers from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club

UFCW 1518 is excited to welcome budtenders from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club this spring.

Workers at the historic medical cannabis dispensary have won job protections and paid staff meetings while they discuss a future contract with their employer. The budtenders, the employer, and the union provided input to create a unique temporary agreement while the dispensary seeks a medical cannabis licence.

“We’re excited to advocate on behalf of the workers at VCBC and support their non-profit’s push to become a licensed medical cannabis distributor,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak.

The union and workers will begin negotiating workplace improvements with the employer over the next few months. Once a tentative collective agreement is in place, the workers will be able to vote over whether to accept the contract and retain their union representation.

In the past, BC BUD members have bargained for and won increased wages, cannabis sommelier training, enhanced store security, and other major improvements to their contracts.

Cannabis industry workers who are interested in joining a union and building more power at their workplace can learn more at ufcw1518.com/cannabis

2% Wage Increases for Community Health as of April 2021

A reminder that all members of UFCW 1518 under the Community Subsector agreement will receive a 2% wage increase as of the first full pay period of April 2021, in accordance with the 2019-2022 collective agreement.

Part of the terms that were agreed upon in 2018 included increases of 6% over 3 years for all workers, improvement of employment security provisions, creation of a “task force” to investigate guaranteed hours and other issues, and additional funding for the Enhanced Disability Management Program.

Although long-standing wage issues were mostly addressed with the $40 million in Low Wage Redress funding, UFCW 1518 recognizes that there are still discrepancies between the Community Subsector and the Facilities Subsector collective agreements, and that wages are not the only issue. The mileage compensation rate of $0.54 listed in the collective agreement is below the 2021 “reasonable rate” of $0.59 identified by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Union Representative, Ashley Campbell, acknowledges that there is still more work to be done. At this time, UFCW 1518 is persistent in getting traction to ensure employers provide the necessary T2200 claim forms, so that Community Health Workers can potentially claim the wear-and-tear on their vehicles to offset the low mileage rate. Your Union is currently reviewing as to whether there is merit behind a policy grievance for failure to provide T2200 forms.

The Union recognizes the vital services that all members of Community Health provide and will continue to advocate for improvements to build upon the existing agreement.