In this issue:
Make no mistake about it – there is a giant in our midst. Sobeys Inc. is the second-largest food-distribution company in Canada, and highly-ranked amongst the major players in North America.
That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Loblaw Companies is an even bigger player in the retail food business. But Sobeys continues to grow, expand, and take over its competition while managing to keep its workforce largely non-union (except in Québec, where Sobeys-owned IGA stores are chiefly unionized). Such a large non-union employer hurts those workers who don’t have a union on their side … and it hurts our own members.
We cannot afford to be complacent in the face of non-union competition. How many times have we sat across the table from an employer in bargaining, facing the spectre of a non-union employer in the same marketplace? It is hard to win for our members what is being withheld from workers without union representation.
Recently, UFCW Canada locals have been successful in organizing workers in several Sobeys-operated locations.
These are just some of the achievements on the part of UFCW Canada in the face of the anti-union stance of this employer. As strong as these breakthroughs are, however, they represent just a small start in what will be a long and difficult battle with an anti-union giant. The national office, along with local unions across the country, is committed to this effort, on behalf of all UFCW Canada members, and we will see it through to a successful end.
UFCW Canada Local 401 has applied to represent more than 200 additional Real Canadian workers in Camrose AB. The application includes 200 workers at Real Canadian Superstore, and another eight workers at Real Canadian Liquorstore.
More: Don Crisall, UFCW Canada Local 401, Edmonton
UFCW Canada Local 832 members at Birds Hills IGA near Winnipeg have a union contract, following the imposition of a first agreement by the province’s labour board. The one-year agreement provides the 85 members with hourly increases ranging from 50¢ to $4.00. For the first time, workers will receive premiums for working on Sundays, evenings and nights, and in higher job or supervisory classifications. Part-timers no longer have to work 15 of the 30 previous days to qualify for a statutory holiday, will now be eligible for paid sick leave after one year’s service, and can increase hours based on seniority. The agreement also included vacation improvements, job protection with a no-contracting-out clause, and the elimination of split shifts. There will be a guaranteed minimum 14 full-time positions, and at least one weekend off per month for full-timers.
More: Don Keith, UFCW Canada Local 832, www.ufcw832.com
Workers at Amity Goodwilll locations in Hamilton, Brantford, Waterdown, and Stoney Creek ON ratified a new agreement in November that provides wage increases of 6% over three years. The members of UFCW Canada Local 175 also won language to cover upcoming restructuring at the charity stores, recognizing seniority and providing for superior severance packages or job transfers if the restructuring results in job losses. The new agreement is substantially improved over an earlier proposal voted down in September after a board-ordered vote.
More: Bob Linton, Kevin Shimmin, UFCW Canada Local 175, www.ufcw175.com
UFCW Canada Local 1977 members at the United Employees Credit Union locations in Toronto and Mississauga have ratified a new three-year agreement. The six bank workers won an 8% wage increase over the term of the contract, retroactive to July 1. A health-and-safety committee has also been established to address various issues at the branches.
More: Rob Armbruster, UFCW Canada Local 1977
A new agreement is in place for 193 members of UFCW Canada Local 500R in Montréal, with substantial improvements. Wages will increase by 2% in each of the first two years, and subsequently by 1.5% per year. Assistant managers will receive a $1.00-per-hour premium, and the employer will increase contributions to the dental and pension plans to increase benefit levels.
Meanwhile, members of UFCW Canada Local 486 at Maxi & Cie stores in Hull and Gatineau QC have voted to extend the current collective agreement for an additional year due to anticipated major store renovations and possible store format changes. The 260 members affected will receive an immediate 2% wage increase retroactive to June 1, along with a lump sum of 10¢-per-hour from June 1 to November 25, and an additional 10¢-per-hour contribution to the pension plan after November 25.
More: Tony Filato, UFCW Canada Local 500R; Pierre-François Boivin, UFCW Canada Local 486
UFCW Canada Local 832 has succeeded in gaining a board-imposed first contract for members at Price Chopper stores in Pembina and Stafford MB. The 50 members gained hourly wage increases ranging from 50¢ to $5.25, the latter awarded to an assistant customer service manager whose annual income will increase by $10,900. The wage scale for sales and service clerks, formerly less than $7.00-per-hour, now rises to as high as $11.50. Receivers will earn $13.50-per-hour after 3,500 hours of service. There are improvements in sick leave, vacations, scheduling, and training. The contract guarantees at least 20% of the bargaining unit will be full-time positions.
More: Don Keith, UFCW Canada Local 832, www.ufcw832.com
UFCW Canada Local 500R members at Provigo-Connaisseur Meats in Boisbriand QC, on Montréal’s north shore, have ratified a new agreement covering the transfer of Provigo meat-processing operations to Cargill Foods. The 247 members can elect to accept a job, with no loss of seniority, at a new plant in Chambly QC, another job from the Provigo job pool, or a negotiated severance payment. “This is a very acceptable offer,” says UFCW Canada Local 500R President François Lauzon. “It guarantees both a job and future employment for all unionized employees.”
More: Tony Filato, UFCW Canada Local 500R
Brother Dobson became active in the union as a Dominion store bakery worker in Nova Scotia. He has worked on UFCW Canada national staff and in local union positions since 1985, returning to national staff when he was appointed Assistant to the Director for the Atlantic provinces in 1999.