Bargaining committee recommends rejection of Special Officer’s report

UFCW 1518’s bargaining committee has rejected recommendations made by Special Officer Vince Ready in the ongoing dispute with Sobeys and is strongly encouraging members vote against them in next week’s province-wide vote.

Mr. Ready was appointed by Minister of Labour Harry Bains after negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement stalled last spring. He “met with the parties on multiple occasions and received hundreds of pages of submissions and replies on outstanding issues.” The Special Officer’s 16-page report described a “conceptual and practical gulf separating the parties”, and made the following recommendations:

  • place the majority of Safeway stores under Quarterly Review
  • adjourn the reopener until a future date, to be determined
  • negotiate a new collective agreement for FreshCo

Mr. Ready further declined to make any recommendations regarding the union’s right of first refusal grievance. Click here to view the recommendations (with the financial information redacted due to legal requirements).

“Let me be crystal clear: the union committee does not accept Mr. Ready’s recommendations. Not only are they are harmful to our members, they have serious negative implications for the grocery industry in BC. What’s more, they don’t guarantee a solution for Sobeys,” said President Ivan Limpright. “The company’s mismanagement is the reason for their financial difficulties and they think taking it out of our members’ pockets is a fair way to regain profitability.”

It’s critical that the Special Officer hear from the membership that the recommendations are unacceptable, President Limpright continued. That’s why the union is holding a province wide vote. “The union’s bargaining committee is strongly recommending a no vote to reject the recommendations,” said Limpright. “We need our membership to come out and vote and show Sobeys that we are united against their attack on our members and the grocery industry in BC.”

President Limpright added that in the absence of full disclosure from the company, the union fears the worst. “We can only surmise that Sobeys deliberately drove down profitability in order to influence the reopener negotiations in their favour and to create chaos in the grocery industry. We have very serious concerns that the company has plans to potentially convert all existing Safeway locations to FreshCo or other discount banners, like Chalo, with discount collective agreements that make it harder for workers to make ends meet.”

UFCW 1518 remains open to meeting with Sobeys to negotiate a fair and reasonable collective agreement that contains strong job security language for all members. So far, however, the company has refused to meet with the union’s bargaining committee, ignoring a request for a meeting yesterday. “We can’t negotiate with an employer who doesn’t come to the table,” President Limpright noted. “And we can’t make informed decisions or negotiate effectively without full disclosure from Sobeys. Unfortunately, Sobeys continues to ignore or deny our requests for information.”

A full scale conversion of Safeway stores threatens the livelihood of more than 4000 UFCW 1518 members, President Limpright explained, with serious implications not only for the union but for the grocery industry in BC.