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UFCW 1518

Federal Election

Vote for progressive change!

Migrant Workers

Still fighting for their rights

Union Pride Queer rights are workers' rights

FALL 2019 ufcw1518.com


October

18 is

Health Care Assistant Day Our care aides & community health workers take care of the most vulnerable people in British Columbia.

THANK YOU! for the important work you do

EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS Susan Bayly, Save-On-Foods, Victoria Kenneth Bellows, Colonial Farms, Armstrong Connie Buckner, Cowichan Home Support, Duncan Laura Cipolato, Save-On-Foods, North Vancouver Dave Diamond, Save-On-Foods, Kelowna Peter Dombrowski, Safeway, Chilliwack Sherry Earl, Overwaitea, Fernie Virgilio Encarnacion, Sofina Foods, Port Coquitlam Nanette Fredericks, Mackenzie Co-op, Mackenzie David Gutierrez, Save-On-Foods, Surrey Christine Holowka, Save-On-Foods, Prince George Danette Lankmayr, Safeway, Vancouver Ronda Melbourne, Save-On-Foods, Vernon Michelle Metcalfe, Shoppers Drug Mart, Coquitlam Robert Milan, Safeway, Kelowna Erin Moore, Safeway, Vancouver Kari-Anne Neave, Save-On-Foods, Burns Lake Stefan Nielsen, Safeway, Vancouver Matt Rose, Safeway, Cranbrook Lazina Sahib, Save-On-Foods, Vancouver Wesley Schellenberg, Save-On-Foods, Abbotsford Eleanor Smith, Penticton Home Support, Penticton Kevin Sparkes, Sunrise Poultry, Maple Ridge Jennifer Vecchio, Nelson Home Support, Nelson Dave Wilson, WE Insurance, Burnaby Linda Wilson, Port Alberni Home Support, Port Alberni EDITOR Kate Milberry CONTRIBUTORS Diana Perez Laird Cronk PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN Diana Perez CONTACT US 350 Columbia St., New Westminster, BC V3L 1A6 Reception: 604.526.1518 | Fax: 604.540.1520 Toll-Free: 1.800.661.3708 BENEFITS Extended Health Plan Safeway Members: 1.800.295.3348 Overwaitea Food Group Members: 1.877.643.7200 Community Health Members: 1.888.275.4672 Health Care Benefit Trust 1.888.736.2087 Dental Plan 1.888.818.3368 UFCW 1518 Pension 1.888.345.8329 Municipal Pension Plan 1.800.668.6335

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is a publication of UFCW 1518 Publications Mail Agreement No. 400064629


CONTENTS ON THE COVER

Raven Morningstar, shop steward at Save-On-Foods in Whitehorse (Read more on p. 12)

FEATURE

12 Union Pride

Queer rights are workers' rights.

EXECUTIVE MESSAGE A word from your leaders

NEWS

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International Migrants Day

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Talking to Politicians

17

Canada Goes to the Polls

04

President Kim Novak

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Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson

PROFILE

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The Interview: Adrienne Smith

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Member Profile: Levon McKenzie

10 COLUMN

09

Community Voice: Laird Cronk

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Bargaining Roundup: What our members won

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A MESSAGE FROM YOUR

EXECUTIVE

Welcome to the Fall issue of Update.

KIM NOVAK President

We’ve had an exciting and busy summer! The election for union officers concluded, with Patrick Johnson and I acclaimed to our roles: we are humbled and honoured to continue to serve our 24,000 members across British Columbia and the Yukon. Along with our Executive Vice Presidents elected to their positions, we will work diligently to ensure the voices and interests of our members continue to be a key focus of our leadership.

number of courses taking place this fall at our New Westminster office, in addition to Steward Appreciation Day for our stewards in the lower mainland. With the grand opening of our Kelowna office in September, we will be able to host union meetings and workshops for members in the Okanagan as well. As our membership continues to grow, so does our ability to expand our reach and impact!

Organizing is a top priority for the union: we must continue to bring the union to nonunionized workplaces, advance workers’ rights and develop an active, engaged membership. That is the only way to build our power and influence at the bargaining table and in the halls of government. Our organizers are constantly following up on leads from workers who are being treated unfairly at work and want to unionize. But our members are organizers too! You have close connections with many non-unionized workers and can help them get fairness at work by encouraging them to join UFCW 1518.

We are always looking for new ways to deepen our connection to members and strengthen our relationship. This summer, we held our first ever picnic in the Fraser Valley for our members working in the industrial sector, and launched a mini-magazine called Industrial Update. For our members in the community health sector, we launched Community Health e-News, a monthly e-newsletter about what’s going on across the province in that sector. We are always looking for innovative and creative ways to connect with our members and we welcome your suggestions.

We are supporting our members to be union activists at work and in your communities through various educational offerings that focus on topics like health and safety, the collective agreement and advanced steward training. There are a 4

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As always, our Facebook page is a vibrant source of news and conversation, and recently we moved on to Instagram! I am excited about the potential of social media for sharing the day-to-day work of the union with you. If you haven’t already, please follow UFCW 1518 and read on for more union news!


PATRICK JOHNSON Secretary-Treasurer

The federal election is October 21. And the stakes for workers couldn’t be higher. With right wing political extremism on the rise in Canada, there are few viable alternatives. But it is essential that we combat hate wherever we find it, and raise our collective voice by voting for progressive candidates. We need to elect leaders who pledge action on the climate emergency, the affordability crisis and the need for universal child care, pharmacare and dental care. If workers vote en masse, if we vote in our interest and if we bring someone else with us to the polls on voting day, we can make a difference in this election. We can vote in a government that works for people, not corporations or the wealthy few. Read our federal election coverage starting on page 17 to find out which candidates we think will serve workers, create a strong, sustainable economy and protect our precious environment. There are many ways that hate finds its way into our communities and as Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP says, we must confront it with love and courage. That is what our members in the LGBTQ2SI communities do every day. In this issue, we feature UFCW’s efforts to be an ally to the queer community and to promote understanding and inclusion for all members, regardless of their sexual orientation. Our coverage Fa l l 2 01 9

starts on page 10 with an interview with Adrienne Smith, a human rights lawyer and labour activist who talks about how we can create safe workplaces for transgender workers. Read about the union’s participation in Pride, as well as OUTreach, an international committee that builds mutual support between the labour and queer movements (p. 12). As union members, we must always stand up and speak out for those who cannot, which is why UFCW continues to advocate for migrant workers and acknowledges International Migrants Day on December 18. President Kim Novak was a guest speaker at the UFCW United Latinos meeting, held in Calgary last August, to shine the spotlight on the continued need to fight for the rights of these vulnerable workers (p. 6). Our members are speaking out too! Over the summer and fall they met with MLAs in their home constituencies to raise awareness about the need to enforce common employer language in the BC Labour Relations Code, to protest our members against union busting through franchising (p. 8). Finally, on page 9 we have a special guest column by Laird Cronk, president of the BC Federation of Labour, about the importance of standing strong in the work we do as union activists. Enjoy! •

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NEWS

LIFTING EVERYONE UP

PRESIDENT KIM NOVAK speaks at the UFCW United Latinos Executive Meeting in Calgary.

UFCW 1518 fights for migrant workers’ rights.

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t’s a story of sadness. It’s a story of tragedy,” says Raj Chouhan of the working conditions on British Columbia farms in the 1970s and 1980s1. Now a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Burnaby-Edmonds, Chouhan was born in Punjab, India. He emigrated to Canada as a young man after answering a newspaper advertisement for farmworkers in the Fraser Valley. What he saw when he arrived shocked him: workers housed in cattle barns with no toilets or running water, daily exposure to pesticides, and unguarded equipment. Wages were low, hours were long and safety regulations and inspections were non-existent. “At the same time, it’s a story of success because people were willing to stand up,” continues Chouhan, who went on to found the Canadian Farm Workers Union, the first agricultural union in the country’s history. Between 2008 and 2010, after a long and difficult organizing effort, UFCW 1518 unionized migrant farmworkers at three greenhouses in Surrey, Abbotsford and Mission.2 But despite some inroads gained by unions, working conditions in British Columbia’s agricultural sector have not improved much over the decades. International Migrants Day, marked each year on December 18, acknowledges that much more needs to be done to improve the plight of migrants. The United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All

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The advocacy of UFCW at the local and national level has enhanced the rights of these vulnerable workers who give up so much to come work in our country, and contribute so much through their labour.” Migrant Workers describes migration as a global phenomenon, highlighting the demand for migrant workers to perform low wage, low skill work in developed countries and sets a moral standard for the promotion of migrant rights. In Canada, migrant workers from Latin America began arriving in 2004 under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), and more recently under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program. “Migrant workers who come to Canada on temporary work permits are supposed to be treated the same as any other Canadian, with


UFCW is the only union in Canada to have negotiated a pathway to residency for temporary foreign workers. the same labour protections and access to health care. But the reality is they’re not,” says UFCW Canada's Felix Martinez. Martinez knows firsthand what he is talking about: he is the whistleblower who exposed the Mexican Consulate in BC for blacklisting migrant workers suspected of being “union sympathizers.” “Migrant workers are some of the most precarious workers. They have no autonomy from their employer, no connection to the community outside the farm, and little access to transportation, health care or legal assistance,” Martinez explains. “And if they challenge the boss or make any waves, their employer can send them back to their home country.” In 2014, the BC Labour Relations Board ruled against Mexico. UFCW 1518 and UFCW Canada continue to be leaders in the fight for fairness for migrant workers, most recently participating in a multi-stakeholder pilot project called the Migrant Workers Support Network, led by the federal government. Its goal is to find ways to improve working conditions, workplace health and safety, access to health care and improved housing; if successful, it will be implemented across the country. “Part of our advocacy on this project is to push for open work permits and an easier path to residency,” says Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, noting that under the current TFW program, a migrant worker’s employment is tied to one employer. If they are fired or mistreated, they cannot seek employment elsewhere in Canada. This situation is ripe for abuse, as the case of the Mexican Consulate clearly shows. “Migrant workers leave their families and their lives behind and come to Canada to work grueling jobs no one else wants. Why would our government deny them residency and the chance at a better life?”

collective agreement language that requires employers who hire temporary foreign workers to help them apply to become permanent citizens. Employers are also required to help temporary foreign workers meet residency requirements, including teaching them English. Many of the union's 32,000 members are migrant workers who have become permanent residents or are in the process. The United Latinos of UFCW supports locals in their efforts to organize and communicate with Latinx members in the United States. It also provides financial support for UFCW members who have applied for US citizenship through its New American Citizenship Fund. They hosted their executive meeting in Calgary last August, where President Kim Novak was a featured speaker. UFCW Canada offers the Migrant Workers Scholarship, which awards 20 scholarships of $500 each to those working in Canada under the TFW program, including seasonal agricultural workers, and their families. “It’s critically important that we support migrant workers in their efforts to be treated with fairness and respect, to become permanent residents of Canada, and to join a union,” says President Kim Novak. “The advocacy of UFCW at the local and national level has enhanced the rights of these vulnerable workers who give up so much to come work in our country, and contribute so much through their labour.” ___________________________________________________________

[1] BC Labour Heritage Centre. 2018. The history of Health and Safety in BC’s Farmworker Industry. Video. [2] Mickelburgh, Rod. 2018. On the line. A history of the British Columbia Labour Movement. Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd.

UFCW CANADA PRESIDENT Paul Meinema, President Kim Novak, Western Director Pablo Godoy & United Latinos President Rigo Valdez.

UFCW is supporting migrant workers in other ways, including through the collective bargaining process. In Alberta, UFCW 401 negotiated Fa l l 2 01 9

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NEWS

TALKING TO POLITICIANS Members meet MLAs over Safeway closure concerns Safeway closures are bad for families and communities. That’s what UFCW 1518 members told their Member of the Legislative Assembly in meetings scheduled across the province this summer and fall. Members, leadership and union representatives met MLAs to discuss the future of Safeway, which is converting to FreshCo in many communities. The discount banner of parent company Sobeys, FreshCo is a franchise that pays lower wages, offers fewer benefits and hires almost no full time employees. “Political action is a key component of the union's advocacy," Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson says. “In addition to representing our members in the workplace and fighting for fairness at the bargaining table, we lobby government for progressive legislative and policy changes.” Since 2018, Sobeys has targeted 20 Safeway stores for closure across BC, 14 of which are slated to open as FreshCo, including in Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake. “This will be devastating for smaller communities where there is only one Safeway that provides not only groceries but employment, and in turn supports the local economy,” explains Johnson. “Converting to FreshCo will bring the loss of secure, full time jobs with good benefits in favour of precarious, part time employment. Our members, their families and the community will lose.” During UFCW 1518’s second annual Lobby Day, held last May in Victoria, members were trained in the fine art of political lobbying and then put into practice their new skills, meeting with MLAs and ministers in the governing NDP. President Kim Novak and SecretaryTreasurer Johnson also met with Premier John Horgan and conveyed to him the serious repercussions of not enforcing common employer language in the BC Labour Relations Code. “Arbitrator Vince Ready imposed a collective agreement for FreshCo that clearly treats Sobeys as the common employer, despite the fact that those stores are franchises,” Secretary-Treasurer Johnson continues. “Now Sobeys thinks that each FreshCo operator will bargain individual collective agreements. That’s a union busting tactic if ever I saw one. That’s why we filed a complaint with the Labour Relations Board.” 8

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LOBBYING MLAs IN KAMLOOPS: Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, President Kim Novak, union representative Shari Jensen & members Charlie Nigro & Dee Webb.

Building on the union’s Lobby Day success, it was time to take the issue directly to MLAs in their home constituencies. In total the union met with nine MLAs, most of whom agreed to send letters to Sobeys CEO Michael Medline in support of maintaining good jobs under the FreshCo banner. Toni Caruso, a former Safeway cashier and 43-year member, met with her MLA in Quesnel. “I heard about stores closing in 100 Mile House and Williams Lake, all the way down the Okanagan, and even Powell River,” she comments. “Our Safeway in downtown Quesnel hasn’t been impacted yet, but I couldn’t wait for it to be destroyed. I worked hard for that store.” According to President Kim Novak, the union will continue raising concerns about FreshCo conversions with local leaders and pressing for political action. “MLAs are bound to represent all constituents, and we expect them to fight on behalf of workers, regardless of political stripe or conviction.”


COLUMN

Laird Cronk is president of the BC Federation of Labour, which represents 500,000 workers from affiliated unions across the province. The changes also mean that the Employment Standards Act is the new “floor” for all workers in BC: now unionized workers whose collective agreements fall below those standards can take action against their employers for better working conditions.

UFCW: LEADING THE FIGHT FOR WORKERS IN BC By Laird Cronk

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019 has been an important year of achievements for BC’s labour movement. Thanks to the advocacy of unions and workers like you, tens of thousands of low wage British Columbians, the majority of whom are women, are now feeling the benefit of the NDP government’s third boost to the minimum wage. Together, the labour movement also achieved the first significant updates in decades to BC’s Employment Standards Act, Labour Relations Code and the introduction of a Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act. The improvements were long overdue after decades of deliberate neglect and attacks on workers from the BC Liberals. Improvements like raising the age children can work in hazardous jobs from 12 to 16; new regulations to protect migrant workers from exploitative employers; protection for workers from employers that unfairly steal their tips; removing barriers to make it easier to form a union; and access to protected leave for workers facing intimate, personal or relationship violence.

Perhaps the most dramatic shift towards protecting worker rights is the end to “contract flipping.” The practice allowed companies to “flip” to lower-cost contracts, pushing down workers' wages, stripping their benefits, and disrupting their vacation, shift scheduling and other entitlements they’d won through their union. Of course, UFCW 1518 members know about employers that use similar underhanded tactics. Sobeys' attack on your ability to bargain collectively through franchising is unfair. It’s members like you who are on the front lines of a battle that affects worker rights here in British Columbia and indeed across the country. Despite these challenges, there is much to celebrate! The jobs you work in are often areas where women, new Canadians, and racialized workers make their living. The work of your union is vital to the success not only of the labour movement, but also of an equitable and fair province and country. In this moment of fear-based, hateful politics both at home and around the world, the organizing, advocacy and campaigning that you do is what stands in the way of inequity, economic insecurity and the rise of the anti-worker right-wing. Under UFCW 1518’s bold leadership, your diverse and engaged membership are doing the hard work to protect workers in sectors that are difficult to organize, and where employers too often violate worker rights with impunity. As the President of the BC Federation of Labour, I want to tell you loud and clear that your fight is the fight of the whole labour movement. We will stand in solidarity and unity with you as you battle for better working conditions, and for the respect and dignity you deserve.

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PROFILE

AN INTERVIEW WITH:

Adrienne Smith Adrienne Smith is a human rights lawyer and lifelong trade union activist, who uses the pronouns they/them. Based in Vancouver, they were called to the bar in 2014; since then, they have worked at Pivot Legal Society, where they advanced critical health, harm reduction, and human rights issues. They also worked at the Canadian Labour Congress, educating union members on transgender issues. They volunteer for the Catherine White Holman Wellness Centre, where they provide free legal advice and notarize name change forms for transgender and non-binary folks. How did you get involved in the labour movement? I was elected steward when I worked in the City of Burnaby’s sanitation yard. From there, I took every union training course available. Union education is different than formal education: it is collective, and it’s informed by our values in a way that college isn’t. Those values are the inherent dignity of workers, the fact that we are experts in our jobs, and that we have a solidarity that makes us responsible to one another. Union education teaches workers how to solve our problems together. What made you take up the law? I credit the labour movement for making me who I am as an activist. It helped channel my interest in social justice in a meaningful way. But I kept bumping up against all the things I didn’t know. Going to law school was one of the hardest (and most expensive!) things I’ve ever done but it was worth it to smuggle a legal education over to our side of the barricade. How can unions support trans workers? Trans people are workers, and they have been in our workplaces and our unions forever. 10

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Trans people are workers, and they have been in our workplaces and our unions forever. A member who’s having difficulty at work should have the resources they need as well as support." Transitioning at work can be an exciting time but also scary. A member who’s having difficulty at work should have the resources they need as well as support from their steward and union. It can be confusing when there’s a trans person as a coworker or customer and a lot of us won’t know how to be supportive in a respectful way. There

are simple, respectful things we can do, like asking people what pronouns they use, and calling people by the names they give us. Don’t guess anyone’s gender, and don’t reveal that you know anyone is a trans person. That could be dangerous for them. What have you been working on lately? I just finished an exciting project with the Canadian Labour Congress called Workers in Transition. It’s a guide for union members and staff to support transgender and non-binary workers who are transitioning on the job, or who require accommodation around pronouns or access to bathrooms and change rooms. The goal is to educate union members about trans issues and promote inclusion in our workplaces, so that burden doesn’t fall on trans people. The guide provides information from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as provincial and federal human rights, so that no matter where you are in the country, you can know your rights. TAKE ACTION! Visit canadianlabour.ca to download Workers in Transition or order print copies.

Levon McKenzie is stepping up his union and queer activism.

MEMBER PROFILE: LEVON MCKENZIE

“I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories,” he says about non-unionized workplaces. “I’m very glad I’m in a unionized job. I know other places can change your schedule last minute or fire you for no good reason. Here, I feel secure," continues the shop steward from Hornby Island Co-op. McKenzie knows that union membership offers protections that many workers don’t have, something especially needed for queer workers. “I think it’s important that people don’t treat LGBTQ people different just because of who we are. I’m thankful that the union stands behind all members, not just heterosexual ones.” McKenzie has worked at the co-op for nine years, and has been a steward for the last four. He has developed great connections with his co-workers and feels safe to be open about his sexual orientation. This year, McKenzie attended Vancouver Pride with other UFCW members, and participated as a guest at the UFCW OUTreach annual meeting. “It was my first Pride parade! I’m looking forward to developing my union involvement through this new avenue.”Title & Name of Person Quoted Fa l l 2 01 9

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UNION PRIDE The fight for LGBTQ2SI rights and worker rights is historically intertwined

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hat we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.” That’s what Sussanne Skidmore’s t-shirt read at this year's Vancouver Pride Parade. For the Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, the message was more than fitting. In fact, the famous quote from JS Woodsworth, a labour activist and founder of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, signals the moral foundation of the Canadian labour movement. “It’s a message of inclusion that underpins the work of the BC Fed, and it’s as important today as when JS Woodsworth uttered those words almost a century ago,” explains Skidmore. Marching next to her was Laird Cronk, president of the Federation, dressed for the occasion in a rainbow-coloured tutu. Together, Skidmore and Cronk led the multi-union Pride delegation, including more than 50 UFCW members and staff.

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Skidmore is the first openly queer senior executive in the history of the province’s largest labour organization. “Representation matters,” she asserts. “To achieve this recognition at the BC Fed together with a great listener and ally like Laird is a great honour. As a queer woman, it is important to have a seat at the table.” Historically, unions have fought to give voice to the voiceless and a seat to those who are not invited to the table. That’s why queer rights are workers’ rights. “Fighting for fairness means advocating for higher wages, better benefits and greater job security for our members, but Fa l l 2 01 9

it also means taking on those larger social justice struggles that affect our communities,” says President Kim Novak. “Affordable child care, pay equity, same-sex marriage— these are intrinsically about fighting for what is right. Unions couldn’t be true to their mission without being strong allies to the LGBTQ2SI movement.” Although the social justice mission of the labour movement is inherently aligned with the struggle for justice by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, twospirit and intersex (LGBTQ2I) communities, the workplace has not always been safe for these workers. But the fight for workers’ rights and LGBTQ2SI


unionists and left wing political parties. Another early example of queer activists connecting with unions in common struggle was the 1973 fight to include sexual orientation in the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy. After council rejected their appeal, GATE turned to the city’s unions for support. CUPE locals 79 and 43 wrote a letter in favour of their cause—a radical move at the time: “The workers, like gay men, knew what it meant to be engaged in ceaseless struggle against powerful and antagonistic forces,” Popert writes. “Like gays, they were constantly being shat on by the powers that control the media and most other institutions.”

PROGRESS

A COLOURFUL CREW: UFCW members from accross North America celebrated Vancouver Pride.

rights a re n eve r t h e l e ss intertwined and in recent years, a strong alliance has emerged.

ORIGINS Around the world, the queer community has faced open and often violent discrimination in the last century. Until 1969, homosexual acts between consenting adults were illegal in Canada and persecution of queer people by law enforcement was widespread. That year marked the birth of the gay liberation movement with the Stonewall Riots in New York City. After violent police raids on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village,

the queer community turned to direct action to combat discrimination and the modern fight for LGBTQ2SI rights in North America began. In Canada, the nascent gay liberation movement connected with trade unions early on, embracing the strategies of unions and other equity-seeking groups. According to Ken Popert, a founding member of Gay Alliance Towards Equality (GATE) in the early 1970s, there was a significant overlap between the gay liberation movement and other social movements, including “women’s lib” and the labour movement. Many gay activists, he writes, learned to organize from trade Fa l l 2 01 9

By 1981, Canada had a Stonewall of its own after Toronto police raided four bathhouses and arrested 268 gay men. The incident marked one of the largest mass arrests in the country and resulted in intensified LGBTQ2SI advocacy. A few years later, after pressure from queer union members, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) amended its constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. More progress was made in 1989, when the Hospital Employees Union in British Columbia gained recognition for same-sex benefits in its collective agreement with health employers. Other unions soon began negotiating similar language, motivated by a CLC resolution calling on affiliated unions to make this a bargaining priority. By the early 1990s, the focus of the queer movement turned to constitutional recognition of LGBTQ2SI rights, including benefits coverage for same-sex •

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Unions couldn’t be true to their mission without being strong allies to the LGBTQ2SI movement.” REACHING OUT “At some places I have worked at it’s been hard,” comments Raven Morningstar, a queer shop steward at Save-On-Foods in Whitehorse. “You don’t really want to say anything to anyone about who you are because you can be discriminated against. At my last job, there was a gay person who came out and he ended up losing his job.” Although discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal, it still happens, both at the workplace and elsewhere. That’s when belonging to a union can really make a difference.

RAVEN MORNINGSTAR is a shop steward at Save-OnFoods in Whitehorse.

couples. The labour movement was a key ally in this fight. Many court battles were fought, often with help from unions, over pension eligibility and extended health and life insurance benefits; other cases focused on immigration, adoption and hate crime. Finally, in 1995 the Supreme Court of Canada recognized sexual orientation as a ground for protection from discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A decade later, Canada legalized same-sex marriage, becoming the fourth country in the world to do so. Since then, Canada has evolved into one of the most queer-friendly countries, with 74 percent of Canadians asserting they know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and five percent identifying as queer. “Our members have lives and identities that extend beyond the workplace: they are mothers, immigrants, people of colour, queer,” comments President Novak. “We have a historic alliance with the LGBTQ2SI movement in that we share common goals for fairness and justice. While the labour movement has certainly been an ally in many victories, we haven’t always been there for queer workers, and there is always more we can do to address homophobia and ensure that unions are inclusive and welcoming to all.” 14

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“Working at Save-On-Foods you can be who you are. I’m more open here and I’m not looked at any different. That’s thanks to the union,” explains Morningstar. In August, she joined 50 UFCW members—queer workers and allies—who marched alongside other unions in the Vancouver Pride parade. For Pride this year, UFCW 1518 also hosted OUTreach, a committee dedicated to building mutual support between UFCW locals across North America and the queer community. At their annual meeting, held at the union office in New Westminster, the group highlighted intersex and two-spirit issues as well as the campaign to end the stigma of HIV. “It is part of our mandate to support our queer workers and community,” explains Emmanuelle Lopez-Bastos, UFCW Canada national representative and founding member of OUTreach. “We know a certain percentage of our membership identifies as LGBTQ2SI and that workers have multifaceted lives and struggles. That’s why intersectionality is essential to the work of the union.” Since 2010, OUTreach has been collaborating with Egale, a legal non-profit that helped pass Bill C-16, which added gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds to the Canadian Human Rights Act in 2016. Under their guidance, UFCW OUTreach has created educational and advocacy programming and resources for union members with a focus on advancing transgender rights and passing legislation to protect queer workers.


“Working at the national level we have the ability to address legislative barriers,” adds LopezBastos. Indeed, additions to the Human Rights Act extend to discrimination in the workplace, providing leverage for unions during negotiations. “On my very first day at this store, I was called a fag,” recounts Taylor Wilson, a member from SaveOn-Foods in Campbell River. “It was said jokingly and not as a derogatory term so I decided not to file a grievance. But my union representative was very supportive and encouraged me to say something. It was powerful to know that I could say something.” During the last round of bargaining with SaveOn-Foods, gender identity and gender expression were added to the no-discrimination language in the collective agreement. Many other 1518 collective agreements now contain similar no-discrimination clauses. Advocating for the rights of LGBTQ2SI members and demonstrating solidarity is an important way for unions to support queer members. “It sends a message that you are going to be accepted,” Wilson says. “As a union, that’s something positive to stand up for, that no matter who I am I know they accept me.” In the 50 years since the Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ2SI communities have won many victories—victories that would not have been possible without the organizing and financial assistance of the labour movement. Anti-discrimination legislation, including pay equity and employment equity; same-sex benefits in collective agreements for partners and families; the right to harassmentfree workplaces; and legal recognition of same-sex

QUEER GLOSSARY GENDER EXPRESSION: How one outwardly expresses gender; for example, through name and pronoun choice, style of dress, voice modulation, etc. How one expresses gender might not necessarily reflect one’s actual gender identity. GENDER IDENTITY: One’s internal and psychological sense of oneself as man, woman, both, in between, neither, or another understanding of gender. People who question their gender identity may feel unsure of their gender or believe they are not of the same gender they were assigned at birth. INTERSECTIONALITY: A theory coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to draw attention to how different systems of oppressive structures and types of discrimination interact and manifest in the lives of minorities; for example, a queer black woman may experience oppression on the basis of her sexuality, gender and race—and a unique experience of oppression based on how those identities intersect in her life. LGBTQ2SI: Acronym used to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit (2S) and intersex people. Additional letters, or a + sign, are sometimes added to this acronym. TRANSGENDER (TRANS): Transgender, frequently abbreviated to trans, is an umbrella term for a wide range of experiences and identities for people whose gender does not match with the gender they were assigned at birth. Identifying as trans is something that can only be decided by an individual for themselves and does not depend on criteria such as surgery or hormone treatment status. TWO-SPIRIT (2-SPIRIT): A term used by many Indigenous communities on Turtle Island (typically known as Canada & US) to describe people with diverse gender identities, gender expressions, gender roles, and s e x u a l orientations. Tw o - S p i r i t people have been and a re v i ewe d differently across different Indigenous nations. Two-Spirit people Adapted from Qmunity's "Queer Glossary: A to Q were included and respected in Terminology" most Indigenous communities, qmunity.ca/learn/ resources sometimes considered sacred and highly-revered. They often took on important roles as healers, mediators and warriors.

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STOP WORKPLACE HARASSMENT! How to handle harassment based on sexual orientation & gender identity

PRESIDENT KIM NOVAK & the UFCW OUTreach Committee.

marriage are just some of the battles that were collectively won. But there is still more work to be done. That’s why the BC Federation of Labour has made a formal commitment to diversity and inclusion, supporting a range of LGBTQ2SI advocacy initiatives. “Our focus now is on those in the LGBTQ community who are not yet free to express themselves,” says Skidmore. “The trans community in particular continues to face discrimination at work and in the community.” One important initiative is the BC Fed’s campaign to reverse the ban on donating blood, bone marrow and organs imposed on men and trans women who have had sex with men. The ban is discriminatory, Skidmore explains, because the criteria are based on sexual orientation rather than high-risk behaviors, perpetuating the stigma towards these marginalized groups. With the rise of hate groups and extreme right wing politics around the world, the labour movement has an important role to play when it comes to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2SI communities. “As a social justice organization we have a responsibility to build workplaces and communities that are inclusive, supportive and safe for our LGBTQ2SI members, so we are not leaving anyone behind,” asserts President Novak. “At the end of the day, it comes down to being consistent with our values: the equal treatment we wish for ourselves, we fight for every day, for all workers.”

1. STOP THE HARASSMENT • Interrupt the comment or stop the physical harassment. • Do not pull worker aside for the purpose of confidentiality unless absolutely necessary as this may “out” a worker who is not ready to be “out". • Make sure all the workers in the area hear your comments. 2. IDENTIFY THE HARASSMENT • Label the form of harassment: “You just made a harassing comment based on perceived sexual orientation.” • Do not imply the victim is a member of that identifiable group. 3. BROADEN THE RESPONSE • Do not personalize your response at this stage. Instead state, for example: “At this workplace WE do not harass people.” Or “Our community does not accept such hateful/ thoughtless behaviour.” • R e - i d e n t i f y the offensive behaviour: “This name calling can also be hurtful to others who overhear it.”

• •

4. ASK FOR CHANGE IN FUTURE BEHAVIOUR Personalize the response: “Chris, please pause and think before you act/speak.” Check in with the victim: “Please tell me if this continues. We can take further action to respond to this problem such as filing a grievance or complaining to the Human Rights Commission. We want everyone to be safe at this workplace." Adapted from UFCW Canada's "LGBTQ Action Cards" bit.ly/2m5SpEM

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NEWS

FEDERAL ELECTION

CANADA GOES TO THE POLLS

When? Monday, October 21, 2019

On October 21, let’s elect politicians who work for people

How do I find my riding? Visit Elections Canada at bit.ly/2Jh74aB How do I register to vote? Register online at Elections Canada: bit. ly/1nWfP9G

Every four years or so, Canadians have the chance to reinvent their government—and their democracy. Like the direction of a party on important issues like affordability, child care and the climate crisis? Elect more of their candidates. Sick of broken promises? Vote in more trustworthy politicians. Voter turnout for federal elections is typically low. This is a problem because it allows political parties to sweep to power with far less than 50 percent of the vote, which means the party that comes to power is not representative of the majority of the people it will govern. Workers need to vote in the upcoming federal election, and they need to vote in their own interest. That means electing the party that understands the need for universal pharmacare, public dental care, climate action, reconciliation and good jobs that fuel the economy. The NDP led by Jagmeet Singh have a New Deal for People that addresses all these issues. Read on for candidates to vote for on October 21!

What do I need to vote? Find out about acceptable ID and alternatives at bit. ly/2H64RfS Want to volunteer? Visit ndp.ca/volunteer to get involved!

LABOUR'S PICKS JAGMEET SINGH – BURNABY SOUTH Jagmeet is a lawyer, a human rights activist and the first person of colour to lead Canada’s New Democratic Party. He served as an Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament from 2011 until 2017, going on to win the federal seat in Burnaby South in the 2019 by-election. Jagmeet has faced adversity in his life, including racism, which has influenced the way he approaches politics—with love and courage. “My mum always says to me, we are all connected: if we see other people suffering, we are all suffering.” His platform, the New Deal for People, sets out the framework for a kinder, more affordable and more livable Canada for all, not just the wealthy few. “We need an economy that is inclusive and that provides all people with what they need to live well. We need to propose solutions that lift each other up.”

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LABOUR'S PICKS LAUREL COLLINS – VICTORIA Laurel is a social justice advocate, an instructor at the University of Victoria and a Victoria Labour Council delegate. In 2018, she ran for Victoria City Council on a platform of bold action on housing affordability and transit accessibility, and as a city councilor, she developed a proven track record for getting results for her constituents. As the NDP candidate for Victoria, she brings her passion for making the world a better place, vowing to put people and the environment first, and fight for strong public services for all who need them. DON DAVIES – VANCOUVER KINGSWAY Before being elected in 2008, Don was a lawyer who represented unions and workers at arbitration panels and labour tribunals. He is a community activist who volunteers his time for non-profit and charitable organizations, including Lawyers for Social Responsibility and Tools for Peace. Because of his deep ties to the community, Don has twice been reelected, winning by thousands more votes than his nearest competitor. His legislative priorities include affordable housing, universal pharmacare and dental care, and poverty reduction. RACHEL BLANEY – NORTH ISLAND-POWELL RIVER Rachel is seeking re-election after winning this riding in 2015 and serving as the NDP’s Critic for Seniors and Veterans Affairs. She is a strong advocate for a National Seniors Strategy and is committed to ending poverty and food insecurity for seniors in Canada. Before entering politics, Rachel was the Executive Director of the Immigrant Welcome Centre of North Vancouver Island and worked collaboratively with small businesses to support local economic growth. She is passionate about protecting the coastlines for future generations.

ALISTAIR MACGREGOR COWICHANMALAHAT-LANGFORD Island-born, NDP Critic for Agriculture, former forestry worker, strong advocate for environmental sustainability and food security. 18

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BOB CHAMBERLIN – NANAIMO-LADYSMITH Single dad, coastline defender and proven leader who has fought to save wild salmon, protect against oilspills and generate jobs through sustainable energy.


FEDERAL ELECTION

JENNY KWAN – EAST VANCOUVER Jenny was the youngest person elected to Vancouver City Council, where she served for three years before moving into provincial politics. She has fought for the people of East Vancouver for more than two decades, first as an MLA in the provincial legislature and then as a Member of Parliament after being elected in 2015. During this time, she has tirelessly advocated for immigrants’ rights, working to build a Canada where no one is left behind.

PETER JULIAN – NEW WESTMINSTER Peter is a community activist and founding member of the BC Disability Employment Network. He has been an NDP Member of Parliament since 2004 and serves as the House Leader and Energy Critic. For 12 years he has been working hard for the people of BC by advocating for a transition to a green economy that will create secure, familysupporting jobs. He believes in holding corporations accountable for their treatment of workers, and is a staunch defender of the most marginalized, fighting to make medication and housing more affordable. BONITA ZARRILLO – PORT MOODY-COQUITLAM Bonita is a three-term city councilor for Coquitlam with a solid record of advocating for affordable housing, environmental protection and vibrant local businesses. A former business analyst, she funnels her experience working with Fortune 500 companies through a governance lens that prioritizes everyday families over the super-rich. Bonita is seeking to continue the NDP’s strong performance in Port Moody-Coquitlam by filling the seat vacated by MP Fin Donnelly, who retired from politics after a 17-year career in public service.

WAYNE STETSKI – KOOTENAY-COLUMBIA Conservationist, hockey coach, NDP Critic for National Parks, life-long public servant, community volunteer, cyclist and former Mayor of Cranbrook.

GORD JOHNS – COURTENAY-ALBERNI Eco-businessperson, Metis Cree descendant, NDP Critic for Small Business and Tourism, environmentalist, former Tofino town councilor and national cycling strategy advocate. Fa l l 2 01 9

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BARGAINING ROUNDUP What our members gained in negotiations

ROGERS FOODS

PRESIDENT KIM NOVAK with members Will Schroepfler & Stuart Fransbergen.

RATIFIED

More than 50 UFCW 1518 members working at Rogers Foods in Armstrong, BC ratified a new collective agreement in July featuring the highest monetary package yet. Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the agreement, which includes a 12.75 percent wage hike over five years. Other highlights are: increases to shift premiums, improved bereavement leave, higher protective footwear allowance and a floater day for members with 25+ years of service. Additionally, members will now become eligible for the UFCW 1518 Pension Plan more quickly. “When we achieve robust contracts like this one, with so many gains for workers, we drive up standards and expectations in the industry,” says President Kim Novak. “Unions continue to set the high bar of good working conditions and fair compensation.” Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Will Schroepfler and Glenn Lutes, assisted by union representative Shari Jensen.

ASPEN GAS CENTRE

RATIFIED

UFCW 1518 members working at Aspen Gas Centre in Comox, BC ratified a new collective agreement in June, with the majority voting to accept the three-year deal. Importantly, the union bargaining committee negotiated a minimum wage spread to address retention problems and to account for minimum wage increases the BC NDP has scheduled annually for the next two years. President Kim Novak said the agreement shows how important it is to have unions to press for higher wages in the face of annual minimum wage increases. “The labour movement has been successful in lobbying the government to increase the minimum wage. We then build upon those increases at the bargaining table, to continually push companies and co-operatives toward becoming living wage employers.” Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Lynn Smith and Reg Lewis, assisted by union representative Ashley Campbell.

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AT THE RATIFICATION VOTE: Union representative Bruce Temple, with bargaining committee Manjinder Brar, Sukhi Sekhon & union representative Ravi Dhinsa.

1ST AGREEMENT!

ROSSDOWN NATURAL FOODS UFCW 1518 members working at Rossdown Natural Foods in Abbotsford, BC ratified their first collective agreement earlier this year. The contract secured important gains for about 200 members working at the farm-to-plate producer of organic, certified humane poultry. “We had to fight hard, even filing complaints at the Labour Relations Board but we were finally able to negotiate a solid first collective agreement,” says Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. The twoyear deal makes great strides for members, including shop steward rights and a stepped grievance procedure as well as a job posting process and new health and safety provisions. There are also improvements to wages, with some members receiving a $2 an hour pay raise. “Before these members were being bullied. Now they have a voice and a union standing behind them, helping them fight for fairness.” Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of Sukhwinder Sekhon and Manjinder Brar, assisted by union representatives Ravi Dhindsa and Bruce Temple. THE SAFEWAY BARGAINING COMMITTEE

RATIFIED

FRESH ST. MARKET BARGAINING COMMITTEE: Union representative Ronda Melbourne, Director Kim Balmer and members Breanna Gillmor and Bryana McConnell.

FRESH ST. MARKET (SURREY) In August, UFCW 1518 members working at Fresh St. Market in Surrey ratified a revised collective agreement by unanimous vote. The four-year deal features significant wage improvements, including a start rate that is 40 cents above the minimum wage and climbs to $16.25 by 2023. All members will be placed on a new wage grid based on their total hours from date of hire, including their career hours and hours credited for previous experience. The wage grid progression was shortened by over 4160 hours and members now have the ability to be scheduled up to 40 hours a week according to seniority. The union also negotiated a health and welfare benefit package that is 100 percent employer paid, with new benefits including a drug card, massage, physiotherapy, dental and extended health coverage. All statutory leaves, such as compassionate care and family responsibility, were added while pregnancy and parental leaves were enhanced. Other highlights of the deal include seniority-based job posting, work protection and more vacation. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Breanna Gillmor and Bryana McConnell, assisted by director Kim Balmer. Fa l l 2 01 9

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HORNBY ISLAND CO-OP

WAGE INCREASE!

UFCW 1518 signed a memorandum of agreement with Hornby Island Co-op in June that increased the wage scale part way through a four-year collective agreement. Under the MOU, store clerk and senior clerk classifications saw significant hikes, putting the Co-op on the path to becoming a living wage employer. “This is a fantastic example of the work the union has been doing to use the rising minimum wage to improve our members’ wages outside of bargaining,” says President Kim Novak. “The employer approached the union to discuss the possibility of increasing wages to deal with retention problems they were experiencing. Employers are starting to realize that they need to pay a livable wage if they want to attract and keep skilled workers.” Special thanks to union representative Ashley Campbell for her assistance.

SAFEWAY GAS BAR

RATIFIED

About 80 UFCW 1518 members working at Safeway Gas Bars across BC ratified a three-year collective agreement in August. Highlights of the new contract include a new wage grid with wage increases close to 2.5 percent, and lump sum payments to members at the top of the grid in each of the three years. New language ensures severance pay and possible transfer opportunities in the event of closure. There is also improved language on restricting hours for students and non-students. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Riley Holkham (Gas Bar Vernon) and Theresa Myles (Gas Bar Mission), assisted by union representative Jason Frank.

ELECTION

2019

RESULTS Your elected UFCW 1518 Executive Officers (2020-2023):

President: Kim Novak Secretary-Treasurer: Patrick Johnson Recorder: Nanette Fredericks Vice Presidents: Christine Holowka Connie Buckner David Diamond David Gutierrez Eleanor Smith Jennifer Vecchio Kari-Anne Neave

Ken Bellows Kevin Sparkes Laura Cipolato Lazina Sahib Linda Wilson Matt Rose Peter Dombrowski Rajiv Mehra

ufcw1518.com

Robert Milan Ronda Melbourne Sherry Earl Stefan Nielsen Susan Bayly Virgilio Encarnacion Wesley Schellenberg


U F C W 1 5 1 8 ’ S 24 T H A N N UA L

C H I L D R E N’ S

HOLIDAY PARTY Entertainment, refreshments & gifts for all children who attend!

MONDAY, DECEMBER 2 4-9PM Burnaby Village Museum 6450 Deer Lake Ave., Burnaby

FREE

ADMISSION For members & families

Register online after November 1 ufcwholidayparty2019.eventbrite.ca


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UPDATE is a publication of UFCW 1518 Publications mail Agreement No. 40064629

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UFCW 1518 Update Fall 2019  

UFCW 1518 Update Fall 2019  

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