2021: A Year in Review

The year 2021 certainly had its ups and downs and despite many of the hardships and challenges, we have built momentum and accomplished so many things.

As we near the end of 2021, we want to look back and give you an overview of what we have accomplished this year and provide you with insight into what you can expect as we move forward into 2022.

January

After learning from the challenges of 2020, we picked up our speed in 2021 to continue to fight for our members. Here are some of the things that we accomplished during the first quarter of the year:

  • In January, UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak wrote a letter to the BC government asking to have frontline workers receive early access to COVID-19 vaccines. This came to fruition in the second quarter.
  • Alberni Co-op and Ucluelet Co-op ratified their new agreement in January, which included wage increases.

February

  • Cartems ratified their first collective agreement in February winning improvements, such as establishing seniority, a probation period and a tip policy in addition to severance pay and determining mandatory rest period between shifts.
  • Potanicals Green Growers workers negotiated and ratified their first collective agreement, becoming the first cannabis growing operation and extraction facility to unionize in Canada.
  • Budtenders at Clarity Cannabis also ratified their first collective agreement winning increases, sommelier training and scheduled raises.
  • In February, Save-on-Foods workers ratified a new contract that brought industry-leading and life-changing wage increases.
Members at Save-On-Foods voted to ratify their contract.

March

  • After fighting a sexist skirt policy, workers at Boston Pizza were welcomed into the union.
  • Members at Colonial Farms in Armstrong, BC ratified a five-year collective agreement that features major wage and workplace improvements.

April

  • In March, we called on the government to grant workers paid time off for COVID-19 vaccination appointments. As a result, the BC government announced in April that employers are required to cover three paid sick days at full pay until the end of 2021. Soon after, the government announced that it will create a permanent paid sick program that will launch in 2022.
  • In April, we welcomed budtenders from the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club to the union.
  • We also fought for gig workers to have free short-term parking. And after talking to politicians, a few municipalities are now creating short-term parking solutions for gig workers. Victoria and Vancouver are working on it.
  • During the April Education Month, we continued to use our digital education platform and had the highest number of registrants with hundreds of members taking on union courses.
UFCW 1518 members building their workplace skills through union courses.

May

  • After months of campaigning for grocery workers to be prioritized for vaccinations, members were provided priority access.
  • UFCW 1518 sent a letter to the BC government to prioritize vaccinations for grocery store workers under 18 and soon after grocery store members under 18 were able to get their vaccines.

June

  • In June, the CLC Virtual Convention kicked off with a record number of UFCW 1518 delegates. The meeting determined the actions that will set the agenda for Canada’s labour movement.
  • UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak attended the National Indigenous Rights Conference along with UFCW 1518 members to honour and commemorate the children found at the former residential school in Kamloops.
  • Workers from Trees Cannabis voted to join UFCW 1518.
  • After UFCW 1518 published a press release about the shortage of home support workers and how Interior Health’s scheduling program is making it more difficult to retain home support workers in the region, Interior Health wrote back and met with Kim to discuss the issues.
  • Workers at Cherry Park Retirement Residence and Rossdown Natural Foods ratified their new agreements, which include benefit improvements and wage increases.

July

  • In July, 18 young members from UFCW 1518 virtually attended the UFCW National Young Workers Internship program.
  • In partnership with Sobeys and Save-On-Foods, we donated a total of $10,000 to the United Way for the Period Promise campaign.
  • We celebrated pride by sponsoring Vancouver Pride’s anti-racism workshops and sent hundreds of union pride T-shirts across the province.
  • Matchstick Coffee bargained hard through a pandemic and won a strong first contract.

August

  • In early August, we reminded the BC government to ensure that gig workers are included in BC’s universal paid sick leave program.
  • At the end of August, we sent a letter to Dr. Henry asking that mask mandates be reinstated in stores that are not covered by the mandatory vaccination order and that stores be required to reinstate crowd control measures like wayfinding arrows to minimize contact between workers and members of the public. This is all to continue to protect our essential workers.
  • Hornby Island Co-op and Mid-Island Co-op ratified their new collective agreements with a 100% unanimous vote.
  • Avalon Dairy ratified their first contract and won major workplace improvements.
  • We had our 2nd annual Human Rights Week with online events featuring panel discussions on human rights, how to take action for Truth and Reconciliation and be an ally, and discussions on mental health as a human rights issue, particularly looking at the intersecting impacts of racism, colonialism and class on mental health.
  • Donald’s Fine Foods workers and workers at Non-Public Fund Employees in Esquimalt, BC also ratified their new collective agreements winning workplace improvements.
Members at Mid-Island Co-op gathered to celebrate their new contract.

September

  • In September, we sent a letter to Save-On-Foods, Sobeys and other employers calling on them to grant their workers a statutory holiday on September 30 in recognition of Truth and Reconciliation Day. A few companies, such as MEC, Lifestyle Markets and Clarity Cannabis, recognized the statutory holiday; however, other companies did not grant their workers a statutory holiday on September 30. We will continue to put pressure on the BC government to mandate September 30 as a statutory holiday. And in September 30, we announced our new Indigenous Committee made up of 5 passionate member activists from different Indigenous communities.
  • At the end of September, a group of health care members attended the Health Care Bargaining Virtual Conference to prepare for the upcoming negotiations for the new community health workers contract.

October

  • In October, after filing an unfair labour practice complaint against giant tech corporation Uber for unfairly firing Uber drivers without due process, the Labour Board met with the union to begin the process of addressing the workers’ complaints.
  • We held our annual Lobby Days event where, one by one, our members met with politicians and explained the need for recognizing Truth and Reconciliation Day as a statutory holiday, providing paid sick days, improving affordability in BC, fighting for gig workers’ rights and strengthening labour laws. Our members ensured that we’re moving the needle in fighting for issues that matter to our membership.
  • Annual fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada – BC/Yukon Region was a success with more than a million dollars raised for blood cancers.
  • President Kim Novak and UFCW 1518 staff and members met at the BC Legislature building with the BC Federation of Labour and other allies to campaign for 10 paid sick days to ensure that no one has to choose between paying their bills and keeping themselves and their families safe.
  • The UFCW 1518 Indigenous Committee held its first meeting to build the foundation of the committee and to advance the work of reconciliation within our union.
UFCW 1518 members lobbied the BC government and spoke directly to the Premier, Ministers and MLAs.

November and December

  • Three Safeway Extra stores (Willowbrook, Burquitlam and Dawson Creek) joined thousands of other UFCW 1518 members working at Safeway stores across the province under one superior contract.
  • More workers joined the BC Bud Division as we welcomed Burnside Buds, Seed and Stone Cannabis and The Original Farm.
  • Our November Education Month was another success as hundreds of members joined us on Zoom for member orientations, fundamental and advanced classes in stewarding, health and safety, bargaining, mental health first aid and other important topics.
  • In December, we held our annual Children’s Christmas party at the Burnaby Village Museum in Deer Lake. A few weeks after, members and their children met Santa via Zoom to let him know what they would like for Christmas.

Looking forward to 2022

As we approach 2022, the pandemic continues and we may face additional restrictions in the coming year. And while COVID-19 continues to be a challenge, we are in awe of your resilience and the incredible work that you continue to do on the frontlines.

We have a big year ahead with a lot of exciting work to be done. With your engagement and solidarity, we are certain that we can continue to improve workplaces across British Columbia and the Yukon.

We hope you are enjoying the season safely with your loved ones and that you are staying healthy.  We are better and stronger as a result of a trying year and have much to look forward to in 2022.

Happy holidays!

In solidarity,

The UFCW 1518 Team

Northmount Pharmacy Workers Sign New Contract

Workers at Northmount Pharmacy in North Vancouver have voted in favour of a new contract featuring wage increases, bonuses, and important health and safety upgrades.

UFCW 1518 bargaining committee member Shannon Schieck worked closely with co-workers and union negotiators to negotiate a strong new collective agreement that addresses several workplace concerns. The new Northmount contract will raise wages for all members and increase health and safety at the site.

Some of the highlights of the new agreement include:

  • a $750 Signing Bonus
  • Wage Increases for all members
  • Added health and safety language
  • Anti-fatigue mats
  • Language around noise levels
  • Additional leave provisions
  • And more!

The employer and union negotiators are finalizing the contract and will share it with members when it is ready. Northmount Pharmacy members will also be able to find a copy of their contract at memberresourcecentre.com.

If you are a Northmount member and you haven’t been receiving union updates, please update your contact information with reception@ufcw1518.com.

Congratulations to the members at Northmount on your new contract!

Non-unionized workers can learn more about the benefits of collective bargaining at ufcw1518.com/join-us.

The Official UFCW 1518 Gift Guide

Looking for that perfect, union-made gift for your loved ones? We’re here to give you recommendations on some of the best and most indulgent treats you can purchase this holiday season in this UFCW 1518 Gift Guide!

These gifts are locally made or served by proud UFCW 1518 members. You can feel great about picking up any of these excellent products and finding a spot for them under your Christmas tree.

The UFCW 1518 Gift Guide!

Matchstick Coffee

Workers at Matchstick Coffee reached out to us in 2020 to learn about the benefits of joining UFCW 1518, and we have been proud to be their union ever since. Matchstick Coffee roasts their exclusive coffee beans in Vancouver. They serve Instagram-worthy coffee concoctions and baked goods at five locations across the city. Pick up a gift card today or order one of their custom roasts for shipping at matchstickyvr.com.

Cartems Donuts

Vancouver locals will be familiar with the delicious and inventive donuts from Cartems. Our favourites include the Earl Grey and Smoked Maple Walnut, but there are always plenty of donut options that are baked fresh daily. Drop in to one of their locations in Vancouver or order online at cartems.com

Unionized Weed

There’s no shortage of legal cannabis shops available these days if you’d like to purchase a bit of holiday chill. But did you know that a growing movement of budtenders have been joining UFCW 1518 to fight for higher pay, better working conditions, and more educational opportunities at work? If you’d like to buy from a BC Budtender Union-affiliated shop, check out:

And if you’re shopping at a non-unionized cannabis shop, let them know about the benefits of joining a union!

Sofina Turkeys

No need to stress over your special holiday meal when you purchase a turkey prepared by hardworking union members. The UFCW 1518 members at Sofina Foods produce products under the Lilydale brand name. Look for them in your local, unionized grocery store!

MEC

MEC has everything for the outdoor enthusiasts in your life. Pick up a present or gift card at their locations in Vancouver or Victoria, and say “hi” to the UFCW 1518 members working on the floor and at the tills.

UFCW 1518 members at MEC celebrate their new contact.
UFCW 1518 members at MEC celebrate their new contract

There are lots of options for discerning shoppers looking to support unionized establishments this holiday season. And if you’re working in a non-unionized establishment, consider giving yourself and your co-workers the gift of higher wages, better benefits, and more respect at work – contact a union organizer today!

BC’s Paid Sick Leave Program: Frequently Asked Questions

In November, the BC Government-mandated 5 days of paid sick leave per year starting January 1, 2022. This change happened after months of advocacy from UFCW 1518, union members, and the labour movement. To provide clarity about the paid sick leave program, we have collected responses to some of the recurring questions members have asked about BC’s Paid Sick Leave program.

FAQ

Q: What happens if I am a casual or part-time worker and my employer denied me access to the 5 paid sick days?

Please contact your union representative to report the issue. If you don’t know who your union representative is, please call us at 604.526.1518.

Under the Employment Standards Act, unionized employers are required to meet or exceed leave provisions under the Act. Each collective agreement is different, so speak to your union representative for further clarification.

Q: If I’m new at work, do I get the 5 paid sick days?

Only employees who have worked for the employer for at least 90 days qualify.

Q: Can I use the 5 days for any type of illness?

Yes, you can use the 5 paid sick days for any type of illness.

Q: Do I need to take the 5 days consecutively?

No, you do not need to take the 5 days consecutively.

Q: What if my employer already offers 5 paid sick days, do I get 5 more days?

No. If your employer offers 5 days or more, then your employer already complies with BC’s Paid Sick Leave Program. Nevertheless, the 5 days of paid sick leave is a big win for workers who were not offered a paid sick leave before this mandate.

Q: If I don’t get sick for one year, can I carry over the 5 days to the following year?

No. Workers cannot carry the paid sick days year to year. They will expire annually if left unused.

Q: How will the 5 days of paid sick leave impact my collective agreement?

If you have specific questions about the paid sick leave program and how it relates to your collective agreement, please reach out to your union representative.

Q: What other government-mandated leaves should I know about?

Yes, under the Employment Standards Act, employees can take:

  • 3 days of unpaid sick leave
  • up to 5 days of unpaid family responsibility leave
  • up to 5 days of paid leave and 5 more days of unpaid leave per calendar year if they are impacted by domestic or sexual violence

For more information on leaves of absence under the BC employment standards, check out the BC Government website.

BC Budtender Union Growing Solidarity in Cannabis Industry

The BC Budtender Union is growing fast as workers at Seed & Stone and the Original FARM vote to join.

A division of UFCW 1518, the BC Budtender Union now represents cannabis workers at seven locations across British Columbia. UFCW 1518 has organized workers at Clarity Cannabis, Victoria Cannabis Buyers’ Club (VCBC), Burnside Buds, and Trees Cannabis. Cannabis growing operation, Potanicals Green Growers in Peachland, BC, is also a part of the union.

Budtenders have been reaching out to UFCW 1518 since 2020 seeking to build more power and respect at work. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, more and more workers have been feeling left behind. Cannabis dispensaries have sprung up across BC since weed was legalized in 2018. However, the workers—essential frontline employees in the COVID-19 pandemic—have not seen an equal share of the profits.

“I’m really glad that I’m not alone in the eyes of the corporation I’m working for now,” said Seed & Stone Budtender Zach Wedderburn. “When you’re an employee it’s a lot more beneficial to be part of a union because there’s a lot more equality and equity.”

BUDTENDERS LOOKING FORWARD TO CONTRACT BARGAINING

With these two new workplaces, the BC Budtender Union will continue growing and building worker power in the cannabis sector. BC Bud members have already gained significant improvements in their jobs, negotiating first contracts that include:

  • Cannabis sommelier training paid for by the employer
  • Industry-leading wages and regularly-scheduled raises
  • Employer-paid certification and licensing
  • Weed tasting and store discounts of up to 30% off
  • And more: read about the first contract at Clarity Cannabis to learn more

Workers at Seed & Stone and Farm are looking forward to beginning the bargaining process and making improvements at their workplaces. “In bargaining, a living wage is one of our top priorities,” said Wedderburn, “but we’re also looking forward to improved communication and more smoothness in day-to-day operations. We all care about this business running well, but we’re looking for our employer to meet us halfway.”

In addition to organizing cannabis retail locations and fighting for wage increases, UFCW 1518 has also fought back against unfair firings in the cannabis industry. In November, the union took the case of an illegally fired budtender to the Labour Relations Board, helping the worker get his job back.

Budtenders looking to learn more about the benefits of joining a union can learn more at ufcw1518.com/cannabis.