Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy Workers Ratify Historic New Agreement

The majority of workers at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy this week have voted in favour of a historic new contract that will add over 300 full-time jobs, bring needed benefit improvements, and create the highest wage increases at these units in 25 years.

Some key highlights of the new agreement include:

  • Access to 300 *NEW* full-time jobs
  • Highest top rate wage increases in 25 years with retro pay
  • Improved wage scale with NO ONE frozen at minimum wage
  • Voluntary severance
  • Night work premium of an additional $2/hr on top of wage increases
  • No wage cap on Starbucks/Coffee Bar employees
  • Significant wage improvements for Pharmacy
  • Vacation bridging for many employees to capture up to 7 weeks of vacation
  • Increased mobility through postings in stores around the province

The agreement came together after 98% of Sobeys members voted in September to authorize a strike. The company initially offered wage increases as low as less than 1% and demanded several concessions from the workers.

“Workers at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy stood up together and demanded better from their employer by delivering a 98% strike vote that empowered our committee to make significant gains for workers at the bargaining table,” said UFCW President Kim Novak. “This agreement is significant because it not only provides the highest wage increases in decades, it offers workers a pathway to more full-time jobs, a much-improved wage scale and more flexibility in what their schedules look like.”

UFCW 1518 will work hard to finalize the agreement over the next several weeks and will send it to Sobeys workers upon completion. The new contract will come into effect this Sunday, October 22. Members who would like to know more about the agreement can reach out to their Shop Stewards and Union Reps for more information.

After 98% strike vote, Sobeys Workers to Vote on New Contract

Thousands of workers at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy will be voting on a historic new contract this week. If ratified, the agreement will add over 300 full-time jobs, benefit improvements and the highest wage increases in 25 years. 

The tentative agreement came after 98% of participating workers voted in favour of a strike in September. The record-high voter turnout showed Sobeys, the parent company that owns Safeway and FreshCo pharmacy, that workers were ready to fight for an agreement that addresses rising inflation and reflects their dedicated work through the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, the company was offering increases as low as less than 1% after nearly nine months of bargaining.

“These workers stood together and were united in their fight for a fair contract by delivering a strong strike vote,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. “With the strong backing of our membership, the committee returned to the bargaining table and won unprecedented improvements with over 300 full-time jobs, the highest wage increases in 25 years, a faster wage scale progression and ending the employer’s practice of freezing workers at minimum wage.”

While wages were top of mind during contract negotiations, the tentative agreement also features many improvements to work-life balance for Sobeys employees, including increased access to vacation days, better control over scheduling, and a four-day workweek.

UFCW 1518 is looking forward to implementing the new agreement following a contract ratification vote that will run from Wednesday, October 18 to Friday, October 20.

Members at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy can find out more about the tentative agreement by speaking to their union representatives in-store or by emailing safewaybargaining@ufcw1518.com.

Sobeys Tentative Agreement Rollout Plan

Last night, UFCW 1518 held a Zoom call with all Safeway/Sobeys Shop Stewards and the Advisory Committee to review the rollout plan for the new Sobeys tentative agreement. The Sobeys Bargaining Committee is proud to recommend this agreement to members.

The agreement represents a lot of different members, departments, stores, and regions, so we are working hard to finalize the content of the 75-page document before it is released it to members.

Thank you to all of the Stewards and workplace leaders who were able to join the call to review the rollout plan with us last night. On the call, union leadership and Bargaining Committee members shared that, in solidarity with UFCW 247, who is returning to the bargaining table on Oct 1113, UFCW 1518 will release the details of the agreement and the open the voting window the week of Oct 16. UFCW 247 President Dan Goodman shared a statement of appreciation with our Stewards and Committee for the support our members are showing them as they return to the bargaining table. 

Sobeys Tentative Agreement Rollout Plan (More details below):

  • October 11-13: UFCW 247 Bargaining Members at UFCW 247 will be back at the table next week. UFCW 1518 will support their committee.
  • October 16 @ 9 am: Zoom call with Advisory Committee We will thoroughly review the terms of the tentative agreement with Advisory Committee members.
  • October 16: Tentative Agreement out to Members We will email the tentative agreement and summary out to members following the call with the Advisory Committee. Bargaining committee members and Reps will be in stores to review the agreement with members and answer member questions.
  • October 16 @ 7 pm: Telephone Town Hall Members will hear a summary and key highlights of the tentative agreement and will be able to ask questions. We will also review the vote plan with members. We will send you details on the call and a reminder next week.
  • October 17 @ 6 pm: Steward Info Sessions We will meet with Stewards to review any questions they have from members to bring back to their workplaces and members prior to the vote window opening. Bargaining committee members and Reps will also be in stores to review the agreement with members and answer questions.
  • October 17–20: Reps and Bargaining Committee Visits Union Reps and Bargaining Committee members will be out in stores to discuss the terms of the Tentative Agreement and answer any questions you may have.
  • October 18 @ 9 am: Online Ratification Vote Opens Voting credentials will be sent to your email address. If you do not receive your voting credentials by 9 am on October 18, please contact us at reception@ufcw1518.com or phone 1-800-661-3708.
  • October 18 @ 5:30 pm: Member Info Session 1 Members can join this online info session to hear a review of the tentative agreement and ask any questions they may have.
  • October 19 @ 8:30 am: Member Info Session 2 Members can join this online info session to hear a review of the tentative agreement and ask any questions they may have.
  • October 20 @ 3 pm: Online Vote closes Voting credentials will only be given out until 1:30 pm. Please contact us immediately if you do not receive your credentials on October 18 @ 9 am.
  • October 20: Results released We will send you the results of the online vote before 5 pm.
We are looking forward to sharing the terms of this Tentative Agreement with Sobeys members in the coming days. As always, members should stay tuned to their email and phones for further information. Members who have not been receiving our communications should contact reception@ufcw1518.com with their full name, workplace name, employee ID, email, and cell phone number.

Sobeys Bargaining Update: Preparing for a Sobeys Contract Ratification Vote

Last week, your Bargaining Committee reached a tentative agreement with Sobeys for workers at all Safeway locations and FreshCo Pharmacies. We wanted to let you know about our next steps and what to expect in the coming weeks as we move toward a contract ratification vote.

What happens next?

Tomorrow, we are meeting over Zoom with all Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy Shop Stewards and the Sobeys Advisory Committee to review the rollout plan for your tentative agreement and ratification vote. Once we have completed this review and made any necessary changes, we will share the detailed rollout plan with you on Thursday, October 5. Keep an eye on your email inbox for that information.

When will I see the Tentative Agreement?

Your Sobeys Bargaining Committee, along with UFCW 1518 Leadership, are hard at work finalizing the details of your Tentative Agreement. We are making sure to dot every “i” and cross every “t” before sharing the 75-page document with members. The document will be released well ahead of the contract ratification vote, and you will have ample opportunity to review the full terms of the tentative agreement, as well as a summary document with highlights.

Additionally, we are setting up a schedule for a Telephone Town Hall and Zoom info sessions for members to learn about the agreement. You will hear more about these after we have reviewed the plan with Stewards. Again, we will send you the detailed rollout plan with dates and links this Thursday, October 5 to your email inbox.

In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the safewaybargaining@ufcw1518.com email inbox. You can send any questions you have to this address and we will get back to you within 48 hours.

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the bargaining process. Your solidarity and support, along with your 98% strike vote, have gotten us to the place where we have an agreement we are proud to recommend to members.

In solidarity,

Angela Crosato, Sobeys 4908, Vancouver
Peter Dombrowski, Sobeys 4920, Surrey
Teresa-Lyne Dziedzic, Sobeys 4920, Surrey
Armin Reyes, Sobeys 4996 Reline Crew
Marlene White, Sobeys 4977, Coquitlam
Shiela Scarr, Sobeys 4912, Langley
Jennifer Brown, Sobeys 4966, Vancouver
Leslie Ramsperger, Sobeys 4911, Burnaby

& UFCW 1518 Staff Negotiators:
Stephen Portman and Ronda Melbourne