Retail Shop Steward Elections are Coming. Here’s What You Need to Know

Over the coming months, UFCW 1518 will be holding elections for Shop Steward positions in retail units throughout the Okanagan and northern British Columbia. Members at these worksites will receive information about running and voting for Shop Steward positions via email.

UFCW 1518 will be rolling out regular two-year Shop Steward election cycles in retail units over 2021 and 2022. All Shop Steward elections will take place every two years, and elected Stewards will hold their positions for two-year terms. UFCW 1518 is making this change to the election cycle to ensure that all newly elected Stewards promptly receive training for their role. Stewards elected in this first round will be eligible for online Steward training in April. Stewards elected in the next 2021 round of elections will be eligible for training in November.

Shop Stewards are at the heart of our union – they support their coworkers, resolve problems in the workplace, and build member power on the shop floor and beyond. Running for a Steward position and participating in the election is among the most important things you can do as a union member, so here’s what you need to know to get involved.

Shop Stewards are democratically elected by their co-workers. Every union member has a say in who will become their Shop Stewards, and every member has the right to run for a position. If you win, UFCW 1518 will train you for the job – no prior experience necessary. And if you win, get ready to learn a lot and take on a fulfilling and challenging role that will enable you to make a real difference at your workplace. Shop Stewards will remain in their position for two years before coming up for election again. There is no limit to the number of times you can run and serve.

The number of Shop Steward positions varies by unit. Each unit will also have Alternate Shop Stewards to fill in when needed. These are also elected positions. Every unit will be able to nominate co-workers for a Shop Steward position. If the union receives more nominations than available positions, there will be an election. For example, if there are three (3) positions available, and five (5) people are nominated, we will hold an election. Otherwise, the nominated workers will become the Shop Stewards by acclaim if they accept the nomination.

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers. If you’d like to know more or are considering running for election, please reach out to your current Shop Steward or your Union Rep, or send us an email at


Q: What is a Shop Steward?
A: A Shop Steward is a co-worker who has been elected to represent the workers in dealings with management. They are first responders for issues in the workplace and they advocate for workers in disputes. Using the Collective Agreement, Shop Stewards work to resolve problems and act as a liaison between the union and the membership.

Q: How do I nominate someone for Shop Steward?
A: You will soon receive an email from the union with a link to a survey where you can nominate co-workers. You can nominate yourself if you would like to run.

Q: Can I run if I haven’t had any Shop Steward training?
A: Yes! We will provide training for all elected stewards and alternates. You will be booked off work and paid for your time. If you can’t make an upcoming training session, you can apply for a later training session – we run two online sessions yearly.

Q: Why is UFCW 1518 moving to two-year Shop Steward terms?
A: We have moved to two-year terms in order to regularize the election of Shop Stewards. Doing so enables us to ensure that Stewards promptly receive training when they are elected to the role. It also ensures that all units have continuous Steward coverage, and helps to provide more coverage across various shifts, improving access to Stewards when they are needed.

Q: Will all units have a Steward election soon?
A: No, retail units in the north and the Okanagan will be part of this first round of Steward training. The next round will take place in the fall – we will let the units in that round know closer to the election date.

Q: What if I don’t have access to a computer or email? How do I vote?
A: You will be able to phone in to the office with your vote during regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.

Q: What happens if someone cannot fulfill their two-year term?
A: The Alternate Shop Steward will step into their role until the end of the current two-year term. If there is no alternate, or if they decline to serve, the union will appoint a Shop Steward in the interim to serve until the end of the current two-year term.

Q: Can I run as an alternate only?
A: No, if you run for Steward you should be prepared to take on the full duties of the role.

Q: I didn’t get my election information. Who do I contact?
A: Send an email to or phone 1.800.661.3708 and we will help you out.

Q: What is a Returning Officer, and who holds this role?
A: The Returning Officer is responsible for overseeing all UFCW 1518 elections. They certify the result and ensure that all electoral procedures run in accordance with the UFCW 1518 constitution. UFCW 1518 Executive Board Member Stefan Nielsen is our Returning Officer.