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UFCW 1518

New Leadership Puts members first

Universal Child Care

BC NDP invests $1 billion

Building

Worker Power The case for organized labour

SPRING 2019 ufcw1518.com


Telephone Town Hall

UNION MEETINGS MARCH 7 JUNE 3 SEPTEMBER 23 NOVEMBER 20

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, Coquitlam Kari-Anne Neave, Save-On-Foods, Burns Lake Stefan Nielsen, Safeway, Vancouver Matt Rose, Safeway, Cranbrook Lazina Sahib, Save-On-Foods, Langley Wesley Schellenberg, Save-On-Foods, Clearbrook 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 Jason Mann Diana Perez

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PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN Diana Perez CONTACT US 350 Columbia Street, New Westminster, BC V3L 1A6 Reception: 604.526.1518 | Fax: 604.540.1520 Toll-Free: 1.800.661.3708

Join the Union Meeting by phone. It’s easy. We’ll call you!

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

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

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CONTENTS FEATURE

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Building Worker Power Unions remain relevant & needed in today's workplaces

EXECUTIVE MESSAGE A word from your leaders

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President Kim Novak

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Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson

PROFILE NEWS

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Universal Child Care comes to BC

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Knowledge is Power

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New Leadership puts Members First

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The Interview: Sussanne Skidmore

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Member Profile: Grace Villegas

COLUMN

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Bargaining Roundup: What our members won

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The Steward: Workplace rules & policies

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A MESSAGE FROM YOUR

EXECUTIVE

Welcome to the first Update of 2019!

KIM NOVAK President

Since I was elected by the Executive Board as President of UFCW 1518 and sworn into the position in January, it’s been a very busy time. SecretaryTreasurer Patrick Johnson and I have made it our first priority to personally connect with our members. It is when we see the environments our members work in every day and hear firsthand about the issues you face that we are better able to establish our strategic direction. That’s why we’ve been visiting communities and workplaces across the province, connecting with members and holding union education courses. It’s been wonderful to meet many of you in person! I have been humbled by the experience and want to thank you for welcoming us. I am focused on ensuring the leadership of your union is connected, responsive and proactive. I will continue to listen and learn. This is how I will be a strong advocate for workers’ rights, able to act decisively with wisdom gleaned from the membership. My vision for this union is an active, engaged base of members, activists and stewards who strive to make their workplaces and communities stronger, more just and more compassionate. And that is just what our stewards and health

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and safety committee co-chairs are doing as leaders in their workplaces. That’s why we launched Steward Appreciation Days; held around the province, these events provide training and education as well as the chance to forge broader networks of solidarity and support. We also continue to expand and enhance our communication with all of our members across our beautiful province. Our membership-wide and sectorspecific telephone town halls allow us to engage in meaningful conversations with members. And when important issues arise that are specific to a particular sector, we can reach out and connect directly with you. Our goal is to engage, empower and mobilize our members and to ensure UFCW 1518 is well positioned to be a strong leader in the labour movement. It is clear that there are ongoing attacks on workers across our province and country by corporations whose main concern is higher profits. Our focus as a union is to fight back against these attacks. When our members understand their rights, and when our union is leading the fight for all workers’ rights, we are more successful in winning grievances, we are more formidable at the bargaining table, and our voice is louder when it comes to law making and policy development that favours working people.


PATRICK JOHNSON Secretary-Treasurer

Union members are union organizers. This is something many of you have heard me say before, and it is particularly true for the members of UFCW 1518. Union organizers do many things; most importantly you engage workers at your own workplace and others in building worker power. I am very honoured and excited to have been elected by our Executive Board earlier this year as Secretary-Treasurer. It is my focus as new leadership to ensure our union is prioritizing growth and especially building power so that we are a stronger union for all UFCW 1518 members, current and future. We have a very diverse membership that I am extremely proud to represent. In a day, we have had the opportunity to meet with UFCW 1518 members on the cut floor and packaging line of a pork plant, then celebrate the New Lunar Year with our members in retail who were selling those same boxes of pork that we saw packaged earlier, and then connect with home support and mental health workers in the Kootenays to talk about the tireless care they provide for people in their communities. To continue to enhance the kind of leadership and representation we provide as a union, we have been focused on developing our education program and holding courses for our stewards and members across the province. S p r i n g 2 01 9

This allows stronger networks to develop between members and gives rise to a unified voice. The advantage of a union is our collective power that fights back against injustices in our workplace and beyond. With a government that is finally prioritizing the needs of working people and families in our province, we are pushing harder for the voices of our members to be heard. That includes meeting with all levels of government to talk about the importance of meaningful reconciliation with our First Nations and find real solutions to poverty reduction. There is also a critical need to reform the labor code in BC to allow workers to more easily join a union and to stop corporate giants from using union busting tactics to drive down union density. So why does that matter to UFCW 1518 members? Because by representing more workers in different sectors, we are more powerful at the bargaining table and that is how we make the necessary improvements to wages, benefits and working conditions. Our members and stewards play a vital role in building the strength of our union and I look forward to working with all of you as we move forward into an exciting year ahead. •

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NEWS

UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE COMES TO BC NDP government invests $1 billion to improve quality, accessibility and affordability for working families.

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n 2011, Camie Pohl’s dream of becoming a mother came true. On a hot summer morning, the Save-On-Foods clerk gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Scotlyn. Camie’s journey to motherhood had been long and complex, but possible thanks to her union membership. “I was beyond grateful that my medical benefits covered my fertility treatments. I would not have been able to afford it otherwise!” As challenging as it was to conceive her daughter, however, finding child care for her was almost more daunting. “When Scotlyn was three months old, I started making arrangements for child care. I called every child care provider in Kelowna. Most never even bothered to call me back. The few who did laughed at me for not calling sooner,” she explains. “I was a first time mom with only three months experience. Child care seemed impossible to attain.” Sammi Stewart, a manager at the Starbucks in the Burquitlam Safeway Extra, had a similar experience. After giving birth to her son, Jackson in 2018, she began researching daycares. “It was pretty hard because everything I found had at least a one-year waitlist.” In the end, with her maternity leave drawing to a close, Sammi had to cobble together a solution: two different daycares and homecare provided by her grandmother. Until recently, finding safe, dependable, affordable child care in British Columbia was a crap shoot. During the 16-year reign of the provincial Liberals, there was only meagre investment in child care: spaces were scarce; wait lists extended into the years; and wouldbe parents were advised to put their names on lists as soon as they became pregnant, or sooner.

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BOWINN MA says universal childcare will be life-changing for BC families.

Women who could not find child care often had no option but to leave the workforce. Those who did manage to find a space faced exorbitant fees and in some cases, an untenable choice: pay most of their wage toward child care or give up their careers. “I have a couple of friends who just stayed home,” explains Sammi. “They left their jobs because they couldn’t find daycare.” In the worst case scenario, those unable to give up their income have been forced to place their children in unlicensed daycares and other unregulated but less costly options. Camie recalls her fruitless search for licensed child care and finally turning to home daycare. “I remember walking in and feeling horrified that this might be the only way I could go back to work. It was either leave my child there or quit my job of 12 years. I felt helpless.” The need to address the child care crisis—the lack of


I’m proud that we helped elect a government that understands the value of children to our society, and the importance of working women to our economy.” affordability and spaces as well as low care provider wages and training—was tragically highlighted by the accidental death of Macallan Wayne. Two-year old “Baby Mac” died in a home daycare in 2017. According to critics, such a tragedy is unavoidable with unregulated child care that has no training requirements, health and safety standards, monitoring or oversight. “There’s no question that finding a safe, quality care provider for your child is top of mind for working families,” says President Kim Novak. “It’s incredibly important and until the new government initiatives, has been incredibility stressful.” As a working mom to two busy boys, aged two and three, she speaks from experience. “I thought I'd interview all these daycares and pick the one that was right for me and my baby. What a shock to find out I'd be lucky to find anything at all. Making child care affordable and accessible enables women to have a career and provide for their family and have them be safe and well cared for.” Under the BC NDP, things are finally changing for working women and families—for the better. Since 2017, Premier John Horgan’s government has invested $1 billion in child care, the largest single investment in child care in the province’s history. The money is earmarked for increasing spaces, reducing fees, building and renovating infrastructure, helping unlicensed providers become licensed, and improving the wages and educational opportunities for early childhood educators. It is a comprehensive approach that is long overdue, says Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale. “Before we took action, some families were paying more for childcare than they were for housing—up to $24,000 per year per child. The cost was absolutely crushing for some families and completely out of reach for others. Today,

under our affordability programs a family making less than $40,000 per year can qualify for fee reductions and subsidies that bring the cost of full-time care down from $24,000 to zero. This is absolutely life-changing.” The new Affordable Child Care Benefit provides financial support for families earning up to $111,000 a year. The Child Care Reduction Fee Initiative lowers the cost of child care for parents by funding eligible child care providers. The Child Care BC New Spaces Fund will support the creation of 22,000 new child care spaces over the next three years. For Sammi, the Affordable Child Care Benefit allowed her to secure licensed child care for her one-year old. “Without it I wouldn’t be able to afford full time care. I was given quotes of $2000 a month!” Things have been rapidly improving for families in dozens of communities all across BC. In addition to the Affordable Child Care Benefit available across the province, North Vancouver alone has also received funding for four new child care facilities, providing 240 new licensed child care spaces as well as funding to convert an existing 37-space facility into a universal $200 a month child care prototype facility where parents pay a maximum of $200 a month for their child. There is also increased funding for programs to support teen parents. "The progress that's been made on the child care file in a short period of time has been remarkable, but we also know there's still more to do," continues Ma. "Thousands more spaces are needed, countless more early childhood educators, and even more progress needs to be made towards our goal of universal child care. We want to see BC become a place where every family has access to safe and affordable child care no matter their circumstances." The BC NDP’s comprehensive child care plan puts the province on track with other provinces that have established universal child care, particularly Quebec, whose $10 a day program has dramatically increased women’s participation in the workforce, which in turn paid for the program. “I’m proud that we as a union and a labour movement helped elect a government that understands the value of children to our society, and the importance of working women to our economy,” says President Novak. “There is no wasted dollar that’s invested in child care. And when working families are wellsupported, everyone in society benefits.”

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SCHOLARSHIP WINNER ERIN MCDONAGH and her dad Mark, a Save-On-Foods member.

NEWS

More than 50 scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $8,000 are available to UFCW 1518 members and their dependants. Jenny has raised an ambitious and intellectual son: Eric Chen, a fifth-year Computer Science and Biology major at the University of British Columbia. Eric is the latest recipient of the UFCW 1518 Affiliation Scholarship. “I really appreciate the scholarship,” he says. “It shows my hard work is paying off and it helps me continue my studies so that I can keep learning more.”

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Empowering members, one scholarship at a time

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n educated membership is an unstoppable force. The only way unions lead change at work and in our communities is through educated members who are empowered to fight for fairness and justice. That’s why UFCW funds tens of thousands of dollars in post-secondary scholarships each year: one scholarship at a time, we are building capacity in our members and their families. Jenny Wu is a proud UFCW 1518 member and mother. A cashier at the West Broadway Safeway,

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Every year, UFCW 1518 funds 20 affiliation scholarships of $1,000 each, awarded on a merit-basis to UFCW 1518 members and their dependents. Eric’s impressive resume made him an ideal candidate: just 22 years old, he researches DNA sequences at the BC Genome Sciences Centre. UBC has also recognized Eric’s academic achievements by awarding him with additional scholarships over the last three years. “He really has worked hard towards this goal. This is his dream career,” says Jenny. Eric has plans to work for a few years after graduation before going to graduate school for a program in computational biology or bioinformatics. In addition to scholarships based on academic performance, the union also supports scholarships that encourage community involvement and leadership. UFCW 1518, together with Save-OnFoods, funds the Joint Diversity Scholarship, which awards $1,000 to student leaders who promote diversity awareness in their community. The UFCW Charity Foundation Scholarship recognizes community involvement and labour activism in post-secondary learners, awarding six scholarships of up to $8000 each to union members and their dependents. Erin McDonagh is the most recent winner of both scholarships. “These awards have meant everything for me. They have changed my life,”


WINNERS OF UFCW 1518's JOINT DIVERSITY SCHOLARSHIP.

SAFEWAY MEMBER JENNY WU & HER SON ERIN CHEN.

Receiving these awards is the next level of security this union has provided to me. I feel confident for my future.” she says. An honours neurobiology student at the University of Victoria, Erin’s dad, Mark McDonagh, is a 33-year member from Save-On-Foods in Brooks Landing. “Not only for financial reasons, but receiving this recognition from my dad’s union speaks to how important the union has been in my life,” she continues. “Because my dad had a union job I never had to move around. We always had the security that he could provide for us. Receiving these awards is the next level of security this union has provided to me.” UFCW 1518 supports workers by representing them to management, ensuring the employer follows the collective agreement, advancing members’ grievances to arbitration when needed, and lobbying government for fairer labour laws. But without an educated and engaged membership, unions cannot realize their full potential and power. That’s why creating opportunities for members to pursue continuing education is an essential part of UFCW 1518’s fairness mandate. “I think it’s great that I get to have a union to back me up and support me,” says 18-year-old Kourtney Trill, a Chilliwack Save-On-Foods member and recipient of the $1,000 UFCW BeggsDowling-Mathieu Scholarship Award. “Winning a scholarship is not something I thought I would have had the chance to do through my union!” Education is just one part of the union advantage! More than 50 scholarships are available every year for UFCW 1518 members and their dependents. Visit the Member Resource Centre for details: memberresourcecentre.com/knowledge-base/scholarships

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PROFILE

AN INTERVIEW WITH:

Sussanne Skidmore Sussanne Skidmore is the new Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour. She was acclaimed at the Fed Convention last fall along with running mate, President Laird Cronk. Together the pair head up the province’s largest labour organization, representing more than 500,000 unionized workers belonging to its affiliated members. A former welfare office worker, Sussanne got her start as a union activist with the BC Government & Services Employees Union (BCGEU) and she hasn’t stopped yet. Sussanne is a fierce advocate for working people, a mother, and a feminist with a defining #MeToo moment. We caught up with her fresh into her new term as one of BC’s most prominent labour leaders. You’ve come a long way since you first became a BCGEU member in Prince George. Tell us about your journey from union member to SecretaryTreasurer of the BC Federation of Labour. I was always on that path right from high school. I was on student council, did grad committee work, organized a teddy bear fundraiser. When I got my job with government in Prince George, the projectionists were on strike and I did picket support. That’s where I was scooped up into the arms of the labour movement! I got really active as a young worker, sat on BCGEU’s provincial executive and also got involved in the local labour council. Then, about four years ago, I decided to throw my hat in the ring for executive vicepresident. After my term ended, the BC Fed seemed like the next logical step. You are a feminist and queer woman, as well as the Vice President of the provincial New Democrat Party. What motivated you to share a very personal #MeToo moment on the floor of the last BC NDP Convention? 10

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In 2017 there were #MeToo rallies around North America to support women who have been sexually assaulted or injured. I had intended to just get up and acknowledge the Women’s March, which was happening that day in Vancouver. But in the moment, I was compelled to tell my own story, which is the story of so many people. All of a sudden, I felt a rush around me and realized I was surrounded by friends, lending me their strength and even placing their hands on me, holding me up. After that, I felt a renewed energy in the party to continue to do the important work of making safe spaces for women and keeping all people safe from sexual violence. How did that moment change you? When I left the convention floor, I was shaking. A young woman of colour, a teenager, was standing outside waiting for me. She thanked me for speaking in a way she said she couldn’t speak for herself yet. She thanked me for giving her strength and said she hoped she’d be able to tell her story

one day, like I did. Knowing I made a difference in one young woman’s life means everything to me. It had such an impact and I’ll carry it with me always. You occupy one of the most influential leadership roles in the provincial labour movement. What do you hope to achieve during your term at the BC Federation of Labour? Laird and I are very committed to bringing the labour movement together to focus on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We just re-signed a Protocol on Cooperation and Communications with First Nations leadership and we also reached out to our affiliates to coordinate statements for the Wet’suwet’en after the RCMP arrested 14 land defenders. As a Federation we took a position about how people were treated. If it were a picket line, if our labour activists were physically removed from a picket line, we would not have stood for it. So, we are starting to think about things differently, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Grace Villegas is a hardworking immigrant, mother & union activist.

MEMBER PROFILE: GRACE VILLEGAS

When she moved to Canada in 2002, it was to pursue a better life for her family. Today, she is a baker at Fresh St. Market. She works alongside her daughter, Christine, who is an assistant department supervisor. Her daughter is a source of pride for Grace: she holds another part-time job as a medical office assistant while also attending school! No stranger to hard work, the decision for Grace to take on the shop steward role came naturally. “My coworkers said I had the qualities to be a steward,” she recounts. “So I said okay, because I wanted to help them and learn more about the union. They have a lot of questions but they are afraid to ask. But how can the union help if you don’t ask? So I told them: ‘I’m going to ask all the questions and I’ll tell you!’” Like her daughter, Grace also has a busy schedule: she has a second full-time job as a housekeeper, earning extra money to help support her family in the Philippines. But that hasn’t put a damper on her union involvement: last summer, she joined the Fresh St. Market bargaining committee and helped negotiate the collective agreement that was unanimously ratified in January (read more about it on p. 21). “I’ve learned a lot! This has boosted my confidence,” she comments. “I’m very Title Title & & Name Name of of Person Person Quoted Quoted proud of our new contract!” S p r i n g 2 01 9

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E R TU A FE

BUILDING

WORKER POWER The case for organized labour

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e are not robots. We are human beings.”

That’s what Rashad Long, a picker at an Amazon warehouse, told a press conference in New York City when Amazon workers announced their plan to unionize last December. Long painted a grim picture of life at Amazon: an inhumane environment where workers toiled long hours, forced to work extended unpaid shifts and pressured with disciplinary actions for not meeting unrealistic productivity targets. To say they fear for their health and safety at work is an understatement. What Long described was a modern-day sweatshop, literally: “The third and fourth floors are so hot that I sweat through my shirts even when it’s freezing cold outside. We have asked [for] air conditioning, but the company told us that the robots inside cannot work in the cold weather.”

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has come at the expense of the workers who made his wealth: every nine seconds Bezos makes more than the annual median salary of his employees. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t want a union. Perhaps that’s why UFCW 175 had to file a labour complaint against Amazon Canada for interfering with an organizing drive in Ontario. The company had fired union supporters and closed one of their courier locations to fight the union. And it’s not the first time Amazon has gone to such lengths to prevent unionization.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world. Evidently, this distinction

“Corporations and captains of industry opine that we don’t need unions anymore—that all the necessary protections for

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workers have been won and are enshrined in law. That’s just not true,” says Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. “With the assault on unions for the past three decades, the decline in union density, and the weakening of labour law, nothing could be farther from the truth.” Amazon workers aren’t buying it either. Because of their agitation and resistance, Bezos announced in 2018 that he was raising the start rate for Amazon workers to $15 an hour, the accepted living wage rate in the United States. “The reality is that fairness is not the norm. The role of unions has always been to support workers and help build better standards,” Johnson continues. “Robber


"THE HAND THAT WILL RULE THE WORLD" by Ralph Chaplin. Cartoon published in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) journal Solidarity on June 30, 1917.

barons like Bezos are no friend of workers; all decisions they make are motivated by personal profit. Ultimately, we know the only path out of poverty today is becoming a union member. And that’s why we organize.”

SUBSTANDARD STANDARDS Since their birth in 18th century Europe, unions have been pushing government and business to treat workers better. But what happens when the legislation designed to support workers fails to protect them? “What’s the process of justice that happens then?” asks Stephen Portman, advocacy

lead at Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS). His question is rhetorical: Portman and the legal team at TAPS are what happens. Together Against Poverty Society is a non-profit organization in Victoria, BC that provides free, in person legal advocacy for non-unionized workers who find themselves in disputes over their basic rights. TAPS helps clients with income assistance, disability benefits, employment standards, and tenancy issues. “We really are the pencil pushers of the social justice movement,” he says, with no hint of irony. Portman knows too well the importance of organized labour. He witnesses it every day as S p r i n g 2 01 9

the lead of the Employment Standards Legal Advocacy Project (ESLAP), defending the rights of non-unionized vulnerable workers whose only legal protection is the Employment Standards Act. He also knows the support his team provides can only go so far. “Often the issues we see with workers arise from the inherent power imbalance in the workplace,” Portman explains. “Whenever we get a win, it’s really just a win to treat a worker badly. So we fight to make an employer to pay his workers minimum wage. We fight and we win but the reality is that these workers are still making minimum wage and they are still living in poverty.” The Employment Standards Act offers legal protections for workers in non-unionized wo r k p l a c e s , but those protections are far inferior to what unionized workers achieve through collective bargaining. And if an employer in a nonunionized workplace breaks the law, it’s up to the worker— or TAPS—to hold them to account, whereas unionized workers have a union backing them up. That’s why TAPS uses every client encounter as a teaching moment. “When I talk to workers, they often don’t even know what a union is. And those who do might have a negative impression of them,” comments Portman. “But when we back these workers up and win, they feel powerful again. That’s when we can have a conversation about what better looks like— and that’s with a union.” UFCW 1518 supports the important work TAPS does for non-unionized workers, as part of the union’s fairness mandate and organizing strategy. Portman recounts the story of a UFCW 1518 community health worker who helped bring the union to •

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E R FE

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It’s a beautiful cliché, but there’s strength in numbers. And that’s why unions matter.” sexualized violence in the workplace and challenge its normalization. “A big part of the problem comes from the power dynamics engrained in the industry and the sense of entitlement in terms of customer service,” explains Kenya Rogers, project coordinator for May I? Having worked in the service industry, Rogers speaks from experience. The demography of the industry adds another layer to the problem: it’s largely gendered. “Eighty percent of servers in BC are women,” she says. “We see men with higher power in the industry but more women occupying serving roles. And there are also other intersections; trans and queer folks are more prone to violence too.”

KASSANDRA CORDERO, Director of Equity and Human Rights at the BC Federation of Labour.

her workplace. “They decided to organize because their boss, who was a male boss, was treating them like dirt every day. It wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t about occupational health and safety. It was about respect and dignity,” Portman explains. “That’s something the Employment Standards Act doesn’t buy you. Only the power of a collective body against an employer can do that. It’s a beautiful cliché, but there’s strength in numbers. And that’s why unions matter.”

SEXUALIZED VIOLENCE Non-unionized workers are vulnerable workers. Yet, some of them are more so than others. Last year, sexual assault centres and worker rights organizations in Victoria began noticing a trend among workers seeking support after being victims of sexual harassment incidents at work. The majority were women working in the service industry: the staff serving food at restaurants and pouring drinks at bars and clubs in the city. As these organizations tried their best to support these workers, they arrived at a second realization: there was a gap in resources available to address this common experience. That’s how May I? Service Industry Sexualized Violence Prevention was born. May I? is a young but ambitious organization looking to open up the conversation about 14

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Unions have been a strong force for acknowledging and addressing sexual violence in the workplace. UFCW Canada has a Women and Gender Equity Committee, which advocates for gender equity and runs educational campaigns against sexual harassment at work. But the service industry is largely non-unionized. Those who are brave enough to come forward and report face an intimidating bureaucratic process, in which they are often re-traumatized and experience minimal chance of seeing justice served. Feminist and advocacy organizations believe prevention through education is the best tool that service industry workers have for the time being. This is why May I? is developing specialized curriculum that addresses issues specific to the industry. “Our intention is to bring a conversation about sexualized violence, bystander intervention and employee rights, so that we can foster a culture of consent and ensure all employees are protected and feel safer,” says Rogers. About 40 percent of Canadian women report being victims of sexualized violence. [1] About 20 percent report experiencing harassment at work. [2] That’s why working women need unions. “As a survivor of sexualized violence, I think it is so valuable when folks like UFCW 1518 see the work we do as important,” adds Rogers. “That in itself creates a culture where this work matters and that contributes to broader changes in society. It is exciting to see unions taking leadership on this.”


LEGAL EXPLOITATION A hopeless but last resort for workers experiencing abuse on the job is to quit. Unfortunately, for about 310,000 temporary foreign workers in Canada, leaving their employer is not a viable option. [3] Established in 1973, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers to fill temporary labour shortages. Migrant workers arriving in Canada under this program are tied to one job, one employer and one location. That’s problematic, says Susanna Allevato Quail of the Migrant Workers Centre. “There’s an extreme power imbalance between migrant workers and management. Not only are they employees, but employers actually have the ability to decide whether they can stay in Canada or not. If they are sexually harassed, if they don’t get paid overtime and they speak up and get fired, not only are they unemployed but they have to return home. So when these workers are abused they have to think: do I stick it out or do I leave the country?” The Migrant Workers Centre is a non-profit organization that facilitates access to justice for migrant workers through the provision of legal information, advice and representation. Since 1976, they have been fighting the inadequate labour laws governing migrant workers and their poor enforcement. In addition to the abuse temporary foreign workers experience at work, Allevato Quail says the system also perpetuates their exploitation. “Almost without exception, all TFWs we see have paid a fee to get a job, and in BC and in Canada that is illegal.” Fees are exorbitant too, ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. Changing an employer to escape abuse at work is not an option for most; applying for a new work permit takes about six months, during which time migrant workers are not eligible for income assistance. The labour movement cares about the challenges facing non-unionized migrant workers. The Canadian Labour Congress has long been advocating for comprehensive measures to be taken to better protect migrant workers’ rights, including the establishment of a federal Migrant Workers’ Commission. In BC, some progress was made last year after the NDP government passed the Temporary Foreign Workers Protection Act. This legislation will create a registry of TFW employers and recruitment agencies so that they can be actively monitored and it will impose tougher penalties to those breaking the law. When the playing field is so steeply slanted however, unions remain the only answer.

Organizing the largely non-unionized migrant worker community has historically been a challenge: most are women, many speak no English, and the work is seasonal. Fear of retribution is one of the biggest barriers, says Kassandra Cordero, former UFCW 1518 member and current Director of Equity and Human Rights at the BC Federation of Labour. “Oftentimes these workers live on the premises owned by the employer, where there aren’t clear legalities about visitors. So a union organizer can show up to the gate of a farm and be denied access,” she explains. “Another challenge is the precarity of the work. If a group of workers gets organized then they can be blacklisted from the organization that sent them and be discriminated by employers.” Despite these difficulties, however, UFCW 1518 took on the challenge of organizing farmworkers who were being brought to BC from Mexico under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. In 2008, the union won the first certification of migrant SAWP workers, and went on to organize workers at two additional farms over the next two years. Outside of BC, UFCW 1118 in Alberta and UFCW 832 in Manitoba have won the right for temporary foreign workers to be sponsored for residency under the provincial nominee program. “If these workers were given residency, they would be able to contribute in meaningful ways to the community and employers wouldn’t have anything to hold against them to exploit them and drive down wages,” asserts Cordero. “A unionized collective agreement that makes a pathway to residency is so important to providing justice.” ________________________________________ Amazon workers who are less valued than robots, labour laws that don't protect workers, women sexually harassed at work, and exploited migrant workers are proof that where employers are left unchecked, unfairness thrives. “Unions have fought hard for a voice at work and for fairness in the workplace,” Secretary-Treasurer Johnson says. “But we can’t stop. Unions and our collective agreements are under constant attack from right wing governments and powerful corporate forces. We’ve got to keep fighting to protect those gains, and to bring the rights and protections of the union to all workers.”

------[1] http://sacha.ca/resources/statistics [2] https://globalnews.ca/news/4771481/women-workplaceharassment-stats-canada/ [3] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/180129/ dq180129b-eng.htm

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NEW LEADERSHIP PUTS MEMBERS FIRST Connecting with members where they work and live

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n January, Kim Novak was sworn in as UFCW 1518’s first woman president in the union’s 120 year history, after being unanimously elected by the Executive Board.

Though her tenure as president has been brief, President Novak’s new leadership style and direction are already having an impact. Along with Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson, also unanimously elected by the Executive Board, she has visited more than 50 workplaces in the community health, retail and industrial sectors in over 20 cities throughout BC. “It’s important for Patrick and me to understand firsthand the issues and concerns that our members have,” President Novak explains. “We need to learn about the challenges they face and the environments they work in every day in order to chart the strategic direction of the union. To do that we need to meet our members where they live and work.” Whether in the Yukon, the Kootenays or Port Coquitlam, President Novak received a warm welcome from members in all sectors represented by UFCW 1518. “I want to thank our stewards, who introduced us and showed us around their workplaces. Our members were excited to tell us about the work they do,” says President Novak. In addition to touring worksites, UFCW 1518 has hosted dozens of special events, information sessions and union training courses, beginning with the first ever Steward Appreciation Day, launched in Prince George last December. “Our stewards are workplace leaders and strong advocates for our members. Steward Appreciation Day acknowledges their hard work while providing additional support.”

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Putting members first is the foundation of President Novak’s approach to leadership. “Members are our first priority. Every single one, wherever they live in our big, beautiful province, and whatever sector they work in. My and Patrick’s vision for this union is to build our power by engaging and empowering our membership through education as well as through organizing,” says President Novak. Communication is key to this vision. “Our telephone town halls allow us to connect with members in big cities and small towns across BC. We can communicate with the general membership about union business and reach out to members in various sectors.” In addition to quarterly telephone town halls for the entire membership there are sectorspecific calls planned for 2019.


KIM WITH MEMBERS AT SOFINA FOODS in Port Coquitlam.

PATRICK WITH MEMBERS AT SUNRISE POULTRY in Surrey.

KIM & PATRICK WITH MEMBERS AT PRICEMART in Richmond celebrating Lunar New Year.

KIM WITH MEMBERS AT SAVE-ON-FOODS in Whitehorse.

KIM & PATRICK ON A TOUR OF THE BRITCO PORK PLANT in Langley.

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KIM & PATRICK WITH MEMBERS at Safeway in North Vancouver.

KIM WITH COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS from Broader Horizons Adult Care in Nelson.

KIM WITH THE CHIEF SHOP STEWARD from the Grand & Toy warehouse in Burnaby.

PATRICK WITH SAFEWAY GAS BAR MEMBERS in Kamloops.

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BARGAINING ROUNDUP What our members won in negotiations

SNOWCREST FOODS BARGAINING COMMITTEEE: Ken Tober, Peter Yewell, Kim Balmer, Ravi Dhinsa & Harminder Brar.

SNOWCREST FOODS About 65 UFCW 1518 members working at Snowcrest Foods ratified a strong renewal agreement in December after five months of bargaining. The four-year deal made significant strides toward achieving wage parity between two pay schedules. About 85 percent of the bargaining unit are covered by the lower paid Schedule B. Under the renewed agreement, these members will receive a wage hike of between 34-54 percent over four years. The higher paid, longer service members on Schedule A will receive wage increases totaling 11 percent over the life of the agreement. According to the company, the total value of the monetary increases is $1.5 million above their current costs, with retroactive pay alone reaching in excess of $123,000. Additionally, a range of “off work” hours and statutory leaves will now be counted as hours worked, putting more money in members’ pockets for fulfilling obligations such as union leave, jury duty and compassionate care. Other gains include a $2 per hour enhanced heavy lifting premium; an increase to the UFCW Dental Plan; an increase to the safety boot allowance; and a hike in severance pay in the event of plant closure. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Harminder Brar, Ken Tober and Peter Yewell, assisted by union representative Ravi Dhindsa and director Kim Balmer. S p r i n g 2 01 9

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IGA — PORT MCNEIL UFCW 1518 members working at IGA in Port McNeil ratified a new collective agreement by a strong majority last December. The deal came after a year of bargaining and three rounds of mediation at the BC Labour Relations Board. But the 60-member bargaining unit stood their ground, rejecting the employer’s first offer and taking a successful strike vote. “Our members know what they are worth and they sent a clear message that they expected to be treated fairly and with respect,” says Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Johnson. At a time when wages in the private sector are stagnant, the agreement features a two percent wage increase in each year of the four-year deal, retroactive to October 2017, in addition to a $50 (gift card) signing bonus. The employer will now match RRSP contributions for two tax years as well as implement paid funeral leave for “step” family members. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Sandra Brandson and Bob Roe, assisted by union representative Ashley Campbell and director Kim Balmer.

AMERICAN INCOME LIFE In February, more than 200 UFCW 1518 members working at American Income Life throughout Western Canada ratified a renewal agreement, featuring increases to the commission rates for agents and an 8.5 percent compensation increase for public relations representatives over the threeyear deal. The employer contribution for extended health benefits was also increased by 11 percent over the life of the deal. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Steve Orcherton, Michael Botond and chief shop steward Leo Van Den Bussche. The AIL marketing specialists also ratified a three-year renewal agreement that includes a six percent wage hike, an increase in employer contributions to the extended health plan, higher allowances for mileage, cell phone and internet, and a larger holiday bonus. Special thanks to bargaining committee member Leo Van Den Bussche. Director Kim Balmer assisted in both sets of negotiations.

AMERICAN INCOME LIFE BARGAINING COMMITTEE: Leo Van Den Bussche, Steve Orcherton, Kim Balmer & Michael Botond.

STONG'S MARKET — DUNBAR With an overwhelming YES vote, UFCW 1518 members at Stong’s Market in Dunbar ratified the re-opener of their collective agreement in December. It was a tough round of bargaining KIM BALMER, MURDOCH, LISA thatKEITH required assistance from mediator Grant McArthur. “The employer came to the table WATSON, DAVE ARCHIBALD & KATIE looking for significant concessions,” says President Kim Novak. “But we held them off and RICHARDSON helped negotiate Island protected our members’ rights and benefits, including accumulated time off (ATO). We were Pharmacy's first contract. able to achieve some improvements for more senior members and significant gains for newer members.” The agreement features start rates across the wage grid that are 40 cents above the new minimum wage, as well as domestic violence leave provisions, transfer language and stronger shop steward language. “This is a very solid win!” Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Gary Fisk, Dave Pearson and Aaron Audet, assisted by union representative Jason Mann and director Kim Balmer. 20

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FRESH ST. MARKET — WEST VAN After many months of negotiations in the reopener of the Fresh St. collective agreement, including several days of mediation, UFCW 1518 members voted unanimously in favour of the new terms. The union won very significant wage increases for all members: by 2022, the start rate will be $16.15 per hour, well over the minimum wage rate, with a top rate of $22 per hour. The union also negotiated an extended health benefits package fully funded by the employer, featuring a prescription plan with a drug card, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, vision care and dental coverage. Other gains include job posting by seniority and a clerks work clause to restrict vendor stocking and provide more hours for bargaining unit members. All statutory leaves of absence were bargained into the agreement, such as compassionate care leave and family responsibility leave, while pregnancy, parental and personal leaves of absence were enhanced. Special thanks to bargaining committee member Grace Villegas, assisted by union representative Ronda Melbourne and director Kim Balmer.

MACKENZIE CO-OP Workers at the recently acquired pharmacy at Mackenzie Co-op are the newest members of UFCW 1518, voting 100 percent in favour of joining the union in February. Language in the collective agreement with the Co-op ensures the union has bargaining agent rights for all future retail operations within the City of Mackenzie. “Our legal counsel felt the language was really strong, so rather than going to the Labour Relations Board we opted to have members vote to accept the terms of the collective agreement,” President Kim Novak explains. The pharmacy clerks now enjoy the same benefits as the other Co-op workers, including a top rate of more than $20 an hour, the UFCW 1518 Pension Plan, employer paid health benefits, eight hours a month of paid sick time, seniority rights and a grievance procedure. “This is a massive improvement for these workers, some of whom had been working at the former Pharmasave for years earning minimum wage and paying for their benefits.” Special thanks to Executive Board member Nan Fredericks, assisted by union representative Jason Frank.

PRESIDENT KIM NOVAK & SECRETARY-TREASURER PATRICK JOHNSON with Source Furniture members .

SOURCE FURNITURE After three months of bargaining, UFCW 1518 members working at Source Office Furniture in Burnaby unanimously ratified a four-year collective agreement. The deal is only the second for this 26-member bargaining unit consisting of drivers, machine operators, assemblers and service people, with significant improvements over their previous non-union wages and working conditions. Highlights include a $600 signing bonus as well as a wage increase of 20 to 26 percent over the life of the agreement. “Retention has been a big problem for Source, and now they understand that they have to pay workers fairly in order to keep them,” says SecretaryTreasurer Patrick Johnson. “So in addition to wage increases, we also negotiated a wage retention grid.” Other gains include the addition of a fourth week of paid vacation, a 50 percent increase in the boot allowance and the introduction of a meal allowance. The employer will now pay $100 for medical reports and new statutory leaves were added. Special thanks to the bargaining committee, made up of members Carlo Sepe and Sasa Boskivic, assisted by union representative Michelle Fedosoff and director Kim Balmer. S p r i n g 2 01 9

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THE

STEWARD

WORKPLACE RULES & POLICIES Employers have the right to develop rules and policies and they are not necessarily required to gain input or agreement from the union or the employees in implementing them. However, this is not a completely unfettered right. When evaluating a workplace rule that is imposed unilaterally the KVP (1965) decision set out three basic principles: 1. Employers have the right to issue a wide variety of rules, as long as they are not in conflict with the collective agreement (as well as relevant legislation). 2. Rules must be reasonable and easily understood. They must be made known to employees and administered fairly and consistently. 3. An employer cannot rely solely on employer rules in issuing discipline. Rather, the employer must demonstrate that the discipline was for just and reasonable cause. Generally speaking, policies and rules that are unilaterally implemented by the employer only become the subject of grievances when the employer relies upon them as just cause for discipline. Some questions to consider when evaluating a rule unilaterally imposed by an employer: 1. Is consistent with the collective agreement? If it contravenes explicit language or the principles found in the contract, the employer would be prohibited from enacting such a rule. 2. Is reasonable? In determining if a rule is reasonable, an arbitrator will generally assess the extent to which the rule is necessary to 22

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3.

4.

5.

6.

protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and its ability to operate in a safe and efficient manner. Is clear and unequivocal? The purpose of a rule or policy is to communicate an expectation to the employees. If the rule is written in such a manner as to be confusing or open to misinterpretation, then that will leave open a defense that the employee did not understand the rule and was therefore not aware that they were in violation. Has it been brought to the attention of the employee affected before the company acted upon it? This is basic common sense; any rule that an employee cannot reasonably be expected to be aware of cannot be used as grounds for discipline. Has the employee concerned been notified that a breach of such rule could result in his discharge if the rule was used as a foundation for discharge? This is one of the basic tenets of the rules of progressive discipline. Not only do employees need to know what is expected of them but they must also know what may be the consequences of not meeting those expectations. Has the rule been consistently enforced by the company from the time it was introduced? If an employer has a rule but does not consistently enforce it, they are giving a mixed message. This can lead to a defense that the employee thought it was no longer in effect or that the employer is being arbitrary or discriminatory in its application of the rules. It can also lead to an argument about the reasonableness of the rule. If it is necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer and its ability to operate in a safe and efficient manner, why doesn’t the employer ensure that the rule is consistently applied?


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PICNIC SUNDAY, JUNE 2 Queens Park Bandshell New Westminster 11 AM - 3 PM • • • •

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

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