- New Year's Message
- Half-million won in arbitration
- New contract for Pizza Pops
- Agreement at Garden Province
- Jack’s the leader!
- Care workers win agreement
- Parking attendants ratify
- Bargaining conference held
- Shaw settlement details
- Night of tribute for ‘3 Amigos’
- No Frills agreement reached
- Ratification at Western Grocers
- Hospital workers win improvements
- Uniform contract reached
- ‘Where trade unionists start their day on the net’
New Year's Message
As the new year started with the annual meeting of the union’s international executive board and advisory committee, three newly-elected Canadian vice-presidents took their place at the table.
Newly-elected are (pictured, from top to bottom) Wayne Hanley, president of UFCW Canada Local 175 in Ontario; Doug O’Halloran, president of Local 401 in Alberta; and Brooke Sundin, president of Local 1518 in British Columbia. They will join me, François Lauzon of Local 500R in Québec, and Robin McArthur of the UFCW-RWDSU joint council in standing for nomination at the Canadian Council convention in March, which will select candidates for election by Canadian delegates at the international convention in the summer.
Brothers Hanley, O’Halloran, and Sundin together represent nearly 100,000 members of UFCW Canada in three of the largest local unions. With wide-ranging experience, histo-ries of strong organizing, and representing a wide diversity of members, the new vice-presidents truly enhance the ability of the executive to meet the needs of members in Canada at the international level.
We welcome their participation, and look forward to their valued contributions in the years to come.
Michael J. Fraser
Half-million Won in Arbitration
Thousands of part-time workers at Zehrs Markets in Ontario will receive retroactive pay of nearly a half-million dollars after an arbitrator ruled in favour of UFCW Canada Local 1977 and ordered the employer to compensate the workers for holiday pay for which they qualified.
When the union negotiated its collective agreement with Zehrs, the contract language regarding qualification of part-time workers for holiday pay surpassed the requirements of the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) at the time. Anticipating that the ESA could be improved during the life of the agreement, however, Local 1977 negotiators also won a clause stating, “… a part-time employee who does not qualify [for holiday pay] under the terms of the collective agreement, but would qualify under the applicable provisions of the ESA, shall be deemed to qualify.”
Changes to the ESA came into effect in September 2001, making it easier to qualify for holiday pay under the act than under the terms of the collective agreement. The company refused to change its procedures, and continued to deny workers based on the terms of the collective agreement.
When it became apparent the issue could not be settled through the grievance procedure, the union proceeded to arbitration. Arbitrator Kevin Burkett ruled that the contract language bound the employer to the terms of the improved ESA, and ordered payment to eligible members who had been denied within 60 days. The total for the award has been calculated at $478,246.53.
Details: Rob Armbruster, UFCW Canada Local 1977,
New contract for Pizza Pops
Approximately 80 members of UFCW Canada Local 832 working at Pizza Pops in Winnipeg have ratified a new collective agreement that will see wages rise 90¢ per hour over the term of the three-year contract.
In addition to the wage increase, the union has negotiated a long list of contract improvements in areas such as sick days, vision care, and prescription drug benefits, and increased employer contributions to the dental and pension plans.
For the first time, workers at the facility have a family responsibility leave, which permits them to use vacation or banked time – and, in some cases, sick days – to attend to an ailing spouse, parent, or child.
Details: Grant Warren, UFCW Canada Local 832,
Agreement at Garden Province
Packinghouse workers at Garden Province Meats in Charlottetown, P.E.I. – a division of Maple Leaf Meats – have ratified a new agreement that means a 45¢ raise, in addition to an increase in pension and other benefit improvements, including dental, drug, and sick pay.
"This was a major achievement for workers at Garden Province," says Bryan Neath, special assistant to the UFCW Canada national director. “The employer was demanding rollbacks and a two-tier system, and the solidarity of these members successfully resisted those demands.”
The 88 members of UFCW Canada Local 864 also won language improvements, particularly with regard to job posting and part-time workers.
Details: Bryan Neath, UFCW Canada
Jack’s the leader!
UFCW Canada political activists from across the country were front-and-centre at the New Democratic Party’s federal leadership convention, held in Toronto January 24-26.
The highlight of the convention was the landslide victory of Toronto city councilor Jack Layton, who swept to victory with more than half the votes on the first ballot – generally unheard of in a six-person race.
Layton’s campaign got off to a strong start in October when UFCW Canada leadership publicly endorsed him as the best choice for NDP federal leader, one of the first labour unions to do so.
"It was a difficult decision because Bill Blaikie, Joe Comartin, and Lorne Nystrom are all very good candidates as well," UFCW Canada national director Michael Fraser said at the time. “After talking it through at length, the leadership of UFCW Canada has agreed that Jack Layton brings a new dimension to the NDP that will attract many new supporters.”
The two other candidates were relative unknowns Bev Meslo and Québec party president Pierre Ducasse (right), whose barn-burner speech won him unexpected sup-port at the convention.
At top, UFCW Canada activists join Layton and partner Olivia Chow (also a veteran of Toronto council) in celebrating his victory. Former party leaders Alexa McDonough and Ed Broadbent – another of Layton’s high-profile endorsers – are also visible. Layton plans to run in the Toronto riding of Don Mills in the next election.
Photos by Roland Lapins, UFCW Canada Local 1000A
Care Workers Win Agreement
Workers at the Chalet Malouin in St. Malo, Man. will see wage increases of as much as $1.50 an hour over a three-year agreement.
In addition, the 11 members of UFCW Canada Local 832 who work at the seniors’ personal care centre will receive a substan-tial increase in sick leave, with both full-time and part-time workers being permitted to accumulate up to 30 sick days, up from 15 previously.
Family-responsibility leave was increased to six from five days, and other improvements were made to family-bereavement and personal leave options.
Details: Grant Warren, UFCW Canada Local 832,
Parking Attendants Ratify
About 200 parking lot attendants who are members of UFCW Canada Local 175 have ratified a new collective agreement. The employees of Imperial Parking in Toronto will receive an average wage increase of 13¢ per hour in each year of the three-year agreement.
The workers will also see improvements to their vacation schedule, increased employer contributions to their health-and-welfare benefits, an annual safety shoe allowance of $75, and a meal allowance of $15 after three hours of overtime.
Details: Cheryl Mumford, UFCW Canada Local 175,
Bargaining Conference Held
More than 100 stewards representing UFCW Canada Local 1518 members at Canada Safeway and Overwaitea/Save On met in Vancouver late last year to plan strategy and approve proposals for upcoming negotiations. During the conference, stewards heard from national director Michael Fraser.
Safeway has already begun a campaign of intimidation against members in an attempt to scare them into accepting concessions, says Local 1518 president Brooke Sundin. The company recently announced it would close the store in Duncan on Vancouver Island unless members agreed to its demands, but later backed down.
Local 1518 has already opened negotiations with Overwaitea/Save On, and the company has told the union negotiating committee that it is not seeking concessions in this round of bargaining. Safeway’s insistence on concessions would, however, result in Overwaitea seeking to level the playing field with concessionary demands of its own.
Stewards at the conference confirmed the position they had taken last May when they gathered to set union proposals. “Our mem-bers will not be intimidated into accepting concessions to their collective agreements,” Sundin says. “They have made it clear they will not be intimidated, and if Safeway wants a fight in B.C., it will get one.”
Details: Tom Fawkes, Andy Neufeld, UFCW Canada Local 1518,
Shaw Settlement Details
After a bitter seven-month strike, 275 members of UFCW Canada Local 401 have ratified their first collective agreement with Economic Development Edmonton (EDE), operator of the Shaw Conference Centre where they work (Directions, 2.16-17).
The workers – banquet servers and kitchen and maintainence staff at the facility – became members of Local 401 two years ago. They had been unable to obtain a contract with an intransigent employer, and finally went on strike against EDE, an agency of the city of Edmonton.
One of the most important elements of the settlement is that workers at the centre now have a grievance procedure and protection from sexual harassment, says Local 401 president Doug O’Halloran.
Workers at the centre have also seen their wages increase anywhere from 20-to-67% since they joined UFCW Canada. “This first contract is a victory because it lays the foundation for building successive solid collective agreements through future negotiations,” says O’Halloran.
Details: Doug O’Halloran, UFCW Canada Local 401
Night of tribute for ‘3 Amigos’
Nearly 100 UFCW Canada officers and staff got together with friends and families in Mississauga, Ont. in January to pay tribute to three recently-retired staff members from UFCW Canada Locals 175 and 633, (l-r) Mark Flannigan, Kip Connolly, and Walter Lumsden. With backgrounds in the retail food, packinghouse, and soft drink sectors, respectively, all three had also served on UFCW Canada national staff.
No Frills Agreement Reached
UFCW Canada Local 1000A members who work for No Frills supermarkets through-out Ontario have ratified a new collective agreement.
The 5,000 members of the franchise stores – part of the Loblaw grocery empire – will receive wage increases of $1.15 over the life of the agreement. Other highlights include vacation improvements to three weeks after five years of service, four weeks after 10, and five after 18. Part-time employ-ees who work 40 hours per week for seven consecutive weeks will receive a $2.00-per-hour premium for all hours worked.
Details: Kevin Corporon, UFCW Canada Local 1000A,
Ratification at Western Grocers
A new collective agreement is in place at Western Grocers in Saskatoon, where 219 members of UFCW Canada Local 1400 will see top rates increase by $1.45 an hour over the life of the contract. Start rates will increase by $1.50 immediately, with yearly increases bringing the start rate increase to $2.30 over the term.
Other highlights include a year-end pay-out of unused sick pay for those with low absenteeism, and a day’s paid leave when serving as a pall bearer. Part-time workers will become eligible for benefits under the jointly-trusteed health-and-welfare plan in 2005.
Details: Greg Eyre, UFCW Canada Local 1400,
Hospital Workers Win Improvements
Approximately 170 members of UFCW Canada Local 832 who work for the Burntwood Regional Health Authority in northern Manitoba ratified a new collective agreement late last year.
The members – who work primarily as health care support staff in Thompson, Man. at the Thompson General Hospital and the Burntwood Regional Health Resource Centre, and at health care facilities in Gillam, Lynn Lake, and Leaf Rapids – will get pay increases totalling 7.6% over the life of the 26-month agreement.
Premium rates for night and weekend work will also increase by 65-70¢ per hour, with night premiums going to $1.75 per hour from $1.05, and the weekend premium rising to $1.35 from 70¢.
“Clearly, the members agree that this is a fair agreement and one that recognizes their role in providing health care for northern residents,” says Local 832 president Robert Ziegler.
Meal allowances were also improved, as were bereavement leave and contract language in a variety of areas, including maternity leave. The union also negotiated a reimbursement program of up to $300 for members who take an approved educational program, and the employer will cover the entire cost of smoking-cessation programs.
Details: Grant Warren, UFCW Canada Local 832,
Uniform Contract Reached
More than 30 members of UFCW Canada Local 1977 working at Double Z Uniform Rentals in Kitchener, Ont. ratified a new agreement late last year.
Members will see wage increases in every year of the agreement, improvements to prescription drug coverage for part-time employees, and a company-paid RRSP following 25 years of service.
Details: Connie Mail, UFCW Canada Local 1977,
‘Where trade unionists start their day on the net’
Started in 1998, LabourStart.org has long billed itself as the Web site “where trade unionists start their day on the net.” While it may not be quite that urgent for every trade unionist, LabourStart.org is one of the most comprehensive and constantly updated sites with news and information of interest to union activists from around the world.
Essentially a clearing-house of information, a recent visit to LabourStart.org showed 16 stories from Canada posted in the past two days, indexed on its front page, available from amongst hundreds globally. Other features include forums, job postings, and much more. The site even offers its service in 10 languages (not all information is available in all languages, however), with five more in the works. LabourStart.org is a voluntarily-produced site, and relies on volunteer correspondents to post news, with a variety of political views, although leaning heavily to the left. It is funded by donations and an arrangement with a labour-oriented online bookstore.