FreshCo and Chalo Workers Unite at Bargaining Kick-off Conference

Image of conference attendees with the FreshCo/Chalo Bargaining Kickoff Conference logo overlaid.

FreshCo and Chalo Workers Unite at Bargaining Kick-off Conference

Preparation for the upcoming FreshCo and Chalo bargaining negotiations are officially underway, with workers from across British Columbia gathering at UFCW 1518 Headquarters this past week for the inaugural FreshCo + Chalo Bargaining Kick-off Conference. Standing as a united front, these workers are ready to mobilize their colleagues and secure a fresh agreement—one that prioritizes workers’ rights and respects the essential roles they play in FreshCo and Chalo’s stores across the province.

The two-day conference was opened by Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt Nationwho spoke on the Nation’s ongoing pursuit of land rights in their ancestral territories, and highlighted the importance that guests on these territories in their struggle, and our shared pursuit of respect and fairness.

The conference included informative workshops, panels featuring union activists, presentations by industry experts, and interactive sessions where FreshCo and Chalo members collaboratively outlined key priorities and goals for the upcoming negotiations. Union leaders also shared insights into effective negotiation techniques, highlighting the impact of collective action and member involvement.

Members engaged in an interactive Bargaining Workshop hosted by UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak, and Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson focused on understanding their rights, strengthening communication skills, and building a united front to address common challenges faced by workers in FreshCo and Chalo stores. The educational sessions aimed to empower members with the knowledge and tools necessary to advocate for fair wages, improved working conditions, and enhanced benefits.

Panel featuring Jaime Emerson, Angie Crosato, Erica Jones, Dean Patriquin, and moderated by UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak.

In addition to workshops and strategy sessions, the conference presented a panel of UFCW 1518 Executive Board Members Jaime Emerson, Angie Corsato, Erica Jones, and UFCW 247 Director of Training, Dean Patriquin. These seasoned advocates shared their experiences in securing positive outcomes for workers through strategic bargaining and community engagement. Their stories served as a source of inspiration, motivating FreshCo and Chalo members to stand strong in their commitment to achieving a groundbreaking agreement that prioritizes the well-being of the workforce.

Canadian Labour Congress Senior Economist, Troy Cochrane also took the stage, providing valuable insights into the current landscape of the grocery industry, workers’ roles in it, and the importance they play. This knowledge equipped FreshCo and Chalo members with a comprehensive understanding of the broader context in which their negotiations would take place, empowering them to make informed decisions that would benefit both workers and the industry as a whole.

As FreshCo and Chalo members return to their respective units, they are more prepared to enter bargaining united in their pursuit of building fair and equitable workplaces.  This momentum sets the stage for a historic push towards a fair and respectful deal, recognizing and valuing the indispensable contributions of workers.