Members Celebrate Bargaining Success at Seed & Stone Cannabis

Budtenders and staff at three Seed & Stone cannabis shops are celebrating this week, after unanimously voting in favour of their first collective agreement, which will introduce several protections and workplace improvements into the Victoria and Delta dispensaries. The news comes just one week after members of the same union ratified a first contract at two Farm Dispensary locations.

Staff employed at the Seed & Stone Victoria shops joined the BC Budtenders Union – a division of the UFCW 1518 – in 2021. In 2022, workers at the Delta location got mobilized and joined their coworkers, strengthening the union’s power at the bargaining table.

“There’s a reason that 75 percent of the private dispensaries in Victoria have organized with us,” says UFCW 1518 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. “Cannabis workers are realizing that with a union they have a voice, and the more of them that join the movement, the more power they can build.”

By bargaining together, these unionists were able to maximize pressure on the employer and come to an agreement on life-changing workplace improvements, including:

  • Higher starting rates (an increase of about 15%)  
  • Hourly scale with guaranteed wage increases
  • Improvements to breaks and scheduling
  • A grievance process and shop-steward language 

“With this contract, the Seed & Stone staff have achieved a fairer and much more respectful workplace,” says Johnson. “Moving forward, they can expect safer working conditions, more opportunities to have a say in how they’re treated, as well as better wages.”

Now that the Seed & Stone deal is ratified, every dispensary in Victoria with BC-Budtenders-Union representation boasts a collective agreement. Across stores, members have revolutionized the industry. As the union grows, diversifies and ages, the standard that they set is only going to get higher.

“Organizing can be a bit intimidating,” Johnson admits, “but their courage pays off, if they stay united. The Seed & Stone staff are a perfect example of how far a calculated risk can carry you. By taking the plunge and organizing, they learned what they’re capable of, then they brought that confidence to the bargaining table and won big.”

The BC Budtender Union is excited for mainland cannabis workers to expand their organizing efforts. This work is already underway; just today, workers at Yaletown Cannabis Store in Vancouver formed a union with the BC Budtenders division. It takes a lot of passion and persistence to launch a movement, but it all starts with a phone call or an email. If you are a cannabis worker in retail or grow-ops, contact UFCW 1518 today.

Bargaining with HEABC Hits a Wall

Strike vote is a potential as members prepare to mobilize

On Nov. 3, the members of the Community Bargaining Association (CBA) of healthcare unions, including UFCW 1518, met with your employer, the HEABC, along with a representative from the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC) Secretariat.

We impressed upon the PSEC that the employer’s last monetary offer is not enough to meet your core bargaining demands. In particular, we emphasized the dramatic differences in compensation between CBA and FBA workers and the impact it has had, and will continue to have, on recruitment and retention in the CBA.
 
Although we tried to clearly demonstrate the disparity, we have received no indication that the monetary offer from the Province of BC will change.
 
We are deeply disappointed and feel there is no purpose meeting anymore with HEABC until we talk with you – the membership. We will be scheduling a meeting with the UFCW Healthcare Bargaining Advisory Committee and on Dec. 6, your UFCW 1518 leadership is hosting a telephone townhall, where we will share this bargaining update with the entire membership, along with a plan to connect with your coworkers and an important update on the strong financial position of our Member Action Reserve Fund (formerly called the strike fund).
 
In the coming weeks, stay tuned for more opportunities to learn about what the employer’s current offer means, what essential services are and how they work, and what a potential strike vote and resulting job action would look like. Please continue to check your email for more information about the townhall. Encourage your coworkers to join!
 
Our goal is to do outreach until mid January. Then the constituent unions of the CBA will meet with each other to strategize.
 

Community social services bargaining suspended

Employer Proposal Fails to Meet Worker Needs

Collective bargaining resumed between the nine-union Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) and the provincial Community Social Services Employers’ Association (CSSEA) this past week to negotiate a new contract for 17,000 unionized workers in the sector.

However, on Monday, talks were suspended after the latest proposal put forward by the employers’ association failed to meet the needs identified by workers in the sector.

You have been clear about your priorities and what you want your representatives at the bargaining table to bring forward. These priorities include a fair and equitable compensation package that will help lighten the pressure of rising costs, meaningful recognition of rights for Indigenous workers and your ability to address your own health needs, including mental health supports.

Community social services sector workers support some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Your bargaining committee is working hard to bring us all a contract that will take care of us as workers and that enables us to provide quality care for the people that we support in our work.

As we are negotiating, the global health pandemic is entering its third year and your workplaces are critically short-staffed. During the pandemic, many of you were required to remain at work. Now we are pushing for you to be considered as important at the bargaining table too.

Unfortunately, we are still not there. This past week, our discussions have been challenging and we are still not reaching an agreement on some of the most fundamental priorities that we believe will make the difference for you.

We are working towards true reconciliation which means that all Indigenous workers are respected, and their cultural needs are valued. We are seeking improvements that recognize the cultural capacity and competency that is required to support Indigenous families when working in Indigenous agencies. These improvements should reflect the value our members bring to communities. Government has expressed a strong commitment to reconciliation, and we believe this commitment should also be reflected in your Collective Agreement.

We are not prepared to bring an agreement back to you that does not value your work and addresses your basic needs and your priorities. We are working towards an agreement that not only puts more money in your pocket but enables you to take care of your health and have a safe workplace.

We are still fighting for a compensation package that protects against rising costs and addresses a root problem in our sector: recruitment and retention. If our communities are going to keep the skills and experience we already have in our sector and recruit the next generation, we need a compensation package that is attractive and competitive.

The employers’ association have different ideas to address the systemic issues in the sector.  But we have heard from you about the priorities that will make the difference to you in the workplace and at home and we continue to find way to ensure that your priorities are reflected in the agreement we bring back to you.

What comes next?

We will be back to the negotiating table at a later date to continue this fight. And we will keep you in the loop as we continue these discussions.

 

 

 

Riviana Foods Workers Ratify Contract with Wage Improvements

Content:

On Oct. 17, UFCW 1518 members who work at the Riviana food processing plant in Delta (formerly Catelli Foods) ratified their tentative collective agreement, which now forms their current contract.

The new contract features several improvements to the members’ working conditions, including:

  • Wage Increases in each year of the agreement
  • After 30 years of continuous service, members will be eligible for another (sixth) week of paid vacation
  • Paid Stat Holiday every September 30, recognizing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Improved premiums and more money for eyeglasses
  • Improvements to job posting provisions.

The workers were able to secure more improvements by taking a strike vote. An unprecedented 100% of voters said they were in favour of job action—their solidarity was enough to bring Riviana back to the bargaining table.

UFCW 1518 is working on a final version of the agreement. Once completed, we will send it out to the members and post it online here.

If you are an Industrial Food worker who would like to learn more about joining a union, get in contact with us at ufcw1518.com/industrial.