New contract makes Sunrise workers highest paid in industry

About 450 UFCW 1518 members working for Sunrise Poultry ratified a new collective agreement with substantial gains, making it the strongest contract in British Columbia’s poultry industry. “Without question, these members are now the highest paid poultry workers in BC – if not North America,” comments director Kim Balmer.

Sunrise is a processor and distributor of fresh chicken, meat and non-meat products. Founded in Surrey in 1983, the company has grown to 1300 employees and six processing plants located in BC, Alberta and Ontario. “We represent three plants here in British Columbia,” notes Balmer. “They’re a living wage employer that seems to understand the connection between a fair collective agreement, a productive facility and, ultimately, profit.”

On July 16, members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the four year deal. The bargaining committee, consisting of members Ray Sereduik, Charles Loro, Jesse McCormick and chief shop steward Kevin Sparkes, and assisted by union representative Tony Evangelista and director Kim Balmer, had unanimously recommended ratification. A major highlight was a wage hike of between eight and 12 percent, with pay retroactive to July 1, 2016. There were also increases to most health and welfare benefits as well as a $100 signing bonus.

Says Balmer: “This set of negotiations was a win for everyone: our members receive fair compensation for work performed and the employer gets a productive workplace. A fair trade I’d say.”