Bargaining Between Save-On-Foods and UFCW 1518 Reaches an Impasse

After 23 bargaining sessions, hundreds of hours of negotiations, and being on the verge of an agreement that would have significantly improved the industry standard while providing the employer more opportunities to grow, Save-On-Foods has withdrawn from their last bargaining proposal with UFCW 1518.

UFCW 1518 and Save-On-Foods nearly came to an agreement that would have:

  • Considerably increased wages for thousands of the lowest wage workers.
  • Paid the highest lump sums ever negotiated for top-rate Grid A and B employees in addition to the lump sum and off-scale increase already in the contract over the next two years.
  • Reinstated wages and benefits in quarterly review stores.
  • Provided more transfer opportunities.
  • Provided more access to vacation entitlement.
  • Made improvements to management structure.

Importantly, there would have been no concessions for our members. The union and Save-On-Foods had agreed, in principle, on a letter that would enable the company to buy non-union grocery stores. However, Save-On-Foods withdrew their proposal when the bargaining committee demanded a commitment that they would not close Save-On-Foods stores, leading to an impasse.

The UFCW 1518 bargaining committee was not willing to agree to language that would compromise union members’ job security, as any enhancements to the Save-On-Foods Collective Agreement become meaningless if union members lose their jobs.

When negotiations come to an impasse in a reopener, the matter must be referred to final offer arbitration for a third party to issue a decision. Once UFCW 1518 and Save-On-Foods settle on an arbitrator, that arbitrator will be able to make a selection of the two final offers from the parties.

UFCW 1518 will let Save-On-Foods members know when final offer arbitration begins.

“While this is a disappointing turn of events, and we are frustrated that the negotiations have stalled out, we are focused on what comes next – final offer selection arbitration, where we will put forward the strongest position to gain improvements for our members,” said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak.

Here is a timeline of the negotiations between UFCW 1518 and Save-On-Foods:

Timeline of Save-On-Foods bargaining

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What matters had the two parties tentatively agreed to before Save-On-Foods walked away?
    A: The employer’s last offer contained transfer opportunities for members, more access to vacation entitlement, changes to the management structure, birth control coverage, movement towards parity for pharmacy assistants on Grid A, and more access for members to move to new stores.
  • Q: What did the monetary agreements look like before negotiations stopped?
    • 2500+ Grid B members would have received $1.90 to $1.95 by June 2021.
    • Nearly 5000 Grid B members would have seen $1.55 by June 2021.
    • The starting rate would have been $1 above minimum wage by June 2021.
    • The agreement contained lump sums up to $2,000 for Grid A and top-rate Grid B members along with unionized management positions.
  • Q: What happened to Pandemic Pay?
    A: We focused on making permanent changes to the wage scale rather than creating temporary pay boosts. With this contract off the table, we will be looking at other ways we can campaign for the return of Pandemic Pay.
  • Q: Will an arbitrator award us the contract that was agreed to before Save-On-Foods walked away?
    A: There are different rules about what can be decided under the Final Offer Selection process so both the Employer and the Union will need to amend their offers.
    We will amend our position after reviewing with the union bargaining committee and in consultation with our legal counsel. We want to put the best position forward to increase our chances of the unions offer being accepted by the arbitrator.
    We will keep you informed of what our submission to the arbitrator is.
  • Q: When will the arbitration be settled?
    A: If UFCW 1518 and Save-On-Foods can agree to an arbitrator, we will then immediately look to the earliest available dates to have arbitration scheduled.
  • Q: Could an arbitrator allow Save-On-Foods to own and operate non-union stores?
    A: No, this is not something Save On Foods can achieve in final offer as it is beyond the scope of arbitration.