Members working at Rossdown Natural Foods ratified their first collective agreement last week, securing important gains for about 200 members working at the farm-to-plate producer of organic, certified humane poultry.
Although they joined UFCW 1518 more than a year ago, Rossdown members faced a challenging path to their first contract. “There’s no doubt members needed the union. The employer was playing favourites; there was no fairness in scheduling or pay raises. And the workers were suffering,” explained Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. “The union fought hard for these members. We stood up to the boss in a way they couldn’t by themselves. We filed complaints at the Labour Relations Board and were finally able to pressure the employer into negotiating a solid first collective agreement.”
The two-year deal makes great strides for members, including shop steward rights and a stepped grievance procedure as well as a job posting process and new health and safety provisions. There are also improvements to wages, with some members receiving a $2 an hour pay raise. A week of vacation was also added bringing it to four weeks for those who’ve worked 10 years or more. “Before these members were being bullied. Now they have a voice and a union standing behind them, helping them fight for fairness.”
Secretary-Treasurer Johnson thanked the bargaining committee for their hard work in achieving a first collective agreement. “Sukwinder Sekhon and Manjinder Brar are dedicated employees who stepped up to become workplace leaders. Without their incredible commitment and countless hours of work, we would not have achieved this success.” He also commended union representatives Ravi Dhindsa and Bruce Temple for their leadership throughout the organizing campaign and bargaining process.