Sobeys violates contract and loses at arbitration – twice

UFCW 1518 has won two recent arbitrations against Sobeys, signaling that the company must follow the collective agreement.

Sobeys failed to respect the collective agreement when it improperly bumped members from the Safeway locations at Austin Road and Davie Street. These two stores are closed for redevelopment and Sobeys used an incorrect bumping method, leading to members with more seniority being dropped to part time status. Sobeys’ claimed that it should not have to place members from these stores into stores that it believes ought to be under the Quarterly Review process in the collective agreement.

The Quarterly Review process was introduced to allow the parties to look at the unique circumstances of a specific store. This process allows the union and the company to avoid store closures and save jobs. However, despite seeking to have 19 stores placed in the Quarterly Review process, Sobeys has decided it does not want to meet with UFCW 1518 and our members. Sobeys made this decision after the union requested the financial records for the 19 stores.

The union filed a grievance and advanced it to expedited arbitration, at which point Sobeys called union representative Dave Archibald to concede. “It was really disruptive to our members, both those who were bumped into the wrong stores, and those who were displaced and lost their full time status. Now Sobeys has to unscramble the omelette.” Archibald added that members who were reduced to part time status as a result of the improper bumping will be made whole by the arbitrator.

The second win came after UFCW 1518 filed another grievance when Sobeys failed to post full time positions. “When we were gathering the facts for the bumping grievance, we demanded the employer provide us with an accounting of available full time positions” explained Archibald. The union discovered that Sobeys hadn’t posted full time positions. “In some cases, the employer had posted the positions in individual stores but that violates the collective agreement. Full time positions must be posted to stores throughout the entire geographical area per Section 8.10 of the collective agreement, so that all members in that geographical area have the opportunity to apply.”

The arbitrator ruled that Sobeys must uphold the contract and post full time positions to all stores in the geographical area. “Sobeys continues to disrespect our members and their rights under the collective agreement. We stood up to them and fought back. And we won,” said executive assistant Patrick Johnson. “As we get closer to the reopening of the collective agreement, the employer needs to get clear on some basic labour law.”