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UFCW 1518

Truth to Power

Lobbying the NDP government

United Against Poverty

Righting

Past Wrongs Why reconciliation matters in the workplace & beyond

SUMMER 2018 ufcw1518.com


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 Sherry Earl, Overwaitea, Fernie 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 Wesley Schellenberg, Save-On-Foods, Clearbrook Eleanor Smith, Penticton Home Support, Penticton Kevin Sparkes, Sunrise Poultry, Maple Ridge Kamal Sudha, Safeway, Vancouver Jennifer Vecchio, Nelson Home Support, Nelson Dave Wilson, Dave Wilson Consulting, Burnaby Linda Wilson, Port Alberni Home Support, Port Alberni EDITOR Kate Milberry

March with us in Pride parades across BC & show your Union Pride!

CONTRIBUTORS Jason Mann Diana Perez

Find out where we are marching: ufcw1518.com/events

BENEFITS Health & Welfare Trust Safeway Members: 1.888.310.1318 ext 3381 Overwaitea Food Group Members: 1.877.643.7200

Want to organize a Pride event in your community? Contact your union representative.

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

Dental Plan 1.888.818.3368 UFCW 1518 Pension 1.888.345.8329 Community Health Members 1.800.367.8111 Health Care Benefit Trust 1.888.736.2087 Municipal Pension Plan 1.800.668.6335

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

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CONTENTS 12 FEATURE

Righting Past Wrongs Labour's responsibility for reconciliation

EXECUTIVE MESSAGE A word from the leadership

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President Ivan Limpright

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Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak

PROFILE NEWS

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Poverty Reduction Consultation Labour Code Review

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An Interview with Chief Rhonda Larrabee

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Member Profile: Helen Zhai

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Lobby Day at the BC Legislature

COLUMN

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Book Review: On The Line by Rod Mickleburgh Bargaining Update: Major Foods & Community Health The Steward: Roles of a Steward S u mme r 2 01 8

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A MESSAGE FROM YOUR

EXECUTIVE

Unions have long been social justice leaders in the workplace and beyond.

IVAN LIMPRIGHT President

Many of the battles begun at work have resulted in regulatory and legislative changes that have had a positive impact on society. But advancements made by the labour movement did not come easily. They were hard fought and the price was often high: workers lost their wages, their jobs, their health and sometimes, their lives battling employers who placed profit above people. Author Rod Mikcleburgh chronicles the struggle of British Columbian unions to win justice for workers in his new book, which includes some early stories about UFCW 1518 (p. 19). The fight for fairness for working people is ongoing, as Mickleburgh's history of BC's working class shows. We cannot rest on our accomplishments; rather we must continually speak our truth to power, and hold government and corporations to account. We do this every time we file a grievance or when we support progressive political candidates and parties that value working people. Recently UFCW 1518 leaders and members traveled to Victoria to meet with NDP ministers and MLAs to lobby the government to keep their promises to workers (p. 16). Political engagement and participation is also essential. I’m proud of our work on the Fair Wages Commission, whose recommendations to raise the minimum wage to $15.20 an hour 4

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and abolish the discriminatory liquor s e r ve r minimum wage were accepted by the government. These are real wins for working people across the province. Our participation in the BC Labour Code review, along with other labour unions is essential if we are to address the power imbalance in provincial labour law that disadvantages workers. UFCW 1518 presented at the review’s public consultation and made a formal submission to encourage the government to right this wrong (p. 8). As a member of the BC Poverty Coalition, we hosted one of the public consultations for the BC NDP’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. BC is the only province without a plan to deal with poverty, but together with 400 supporting organizations we aim to change that (p. 6). At UFCW 1518 we always look after our own. But we understand that our members live in communities affected by the decision makers at all levels of government. That’s why we take our fight for fairness beyond the workplace; in turn, this helps us to mobilize, organize and build solidarity. These are all things that help us strengthen our collective agreements and defend our members’ rights; but, perhaps more importantly, they are also the heart and soul of the labour movement which lifts us all.


KIM NOVAK Secretary-Treasurer

Reconciliation is more than a word. It's a process. It's a responsibility. It’s a response to hundreds of years of colonization and the injustices born of white supremacy. Reconciliation is part of our social justice mandate. We are fortunate to have a national union that leads the way and supports its 27 locals on the path to justice for our First Nations co-workers, friends and neighbours. UFCW 1518 takes its role in reconciliation seriously. We understand that we need to change attitudes and practices that are familiar and comfortable. Unions, like people, are judged by their actions. What we do is often more important — and more revealing — than what we say. That’s why every June we acknowledge National Indigenous Peoples Month. This is an important recognition of First Nations history and heritage — and one of many opportunities to make amends. Although we may not have committed the wrongs done to Indigenous people, we are all responsible for the dismantling of colonial structures and systems that continue to disenfranchise and harm our First Nations. The last residential school may have closed its doors in 1996 but the legacy of “Indian” assimilation and annihilation lives on. So what can we do? A lot, as it turns out. We can provide space and voice for the stories of our First Nations co-workers S u mme r 2 01 8

and community members, as we have done in our feature story exploring the legacy of residential schools, the reserve system and the resulting intergenerational trauma (p. 12). We can acknowledge traditional territories — many of which are unceded. We can honour First Nations through formal acknowledgements of their people and land. We can reach out to them at work, ask them questions about their experience and offer allyship, friendship. But we know our contribution to reconciliation does not end with these small gestures. The process is ongoing and all it requires is willing participants. Residential school survivor and member Dulcie August graces the cover of this issue; her bravery and strength is an inspiration to us all. Our interview with Rhonda Larrabee, Chief of the Qayqayt First Nation, reveals a woman who overcame racism to become an important community leader (p. 10). And member Danielle Stohl attended our Lobby Day training, only to bring the concerns of her workplace and constituency directly to her MLA (p 16). These are powerful women with important contributions to make. They remind us to keep reaching out to our First Nations members so we can educate ourselves and walk the path of reconciliation.

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MEMBERS AT THE UFCW 1518 OFFICE attending a Poverty Reduction consultation.

NEWS

UNITED AGAINST POVERTY

UFCW 1518 is committed to poverty reduction for our members and for all

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ince the labour movement helped usher the New Democratic Party into power last year, things have been changing for the better for workers in British Columbia. In addition to raising the minimum wage, eliminating health care premiums and reviewing the Labour Relations Code, the BC NDP is developing BC’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy. Although BC has the highest poverty rate in Canada, with an estimated of 678,000 people living in poverty, it is currently the only province without a legislated plan to deal with the problem. UFCW 1518 is one of 70 members and almost 400 supporting organizations in the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. Founded in 2008, the coalition advocates for the reduction of poverty, homelessness and inequality in British Columbia. Its goal is to have the government adopt their recommendations, which deal with policies relating to housing, food security and the living wage.

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Our union gives strength in two ways: Looking inward in solidarity with our members, but also looking outward to the community.” That the NDP appointed several members from the coalition to the BC Poverty Reduction Strategy advisory group bodes well for workers, says Stephanie Smith, who represents UFCW 1518 on the coalition. “We are very happy to see a government that is interested in poverty reduction.” A legal advocate at First United Church, Smith is both a union member and a temporary union representative. “The recommendations of the coalition are relevant to our members, relating to issues such as child care, workers’ rights and


Most adults and families living in poverty in BC are part of the paid labour force.

BETTY BI is a member who thinks retail wages are not enough to live in the city.

the minimum wage. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have a seat at that table.” Research shows that most adults living in poverty have a job, and that the majority of poor children in British Columbia live in families with parents who work in the paid labour force. Low wages are a major factor in this poverty epidemic. “Our wages are not enough for a decent living,” says member Betty Bi, a shop steward from the Metrotown PriceSmart. “My generation, if we want to live independently, we have to pay for rent, groceries, occasional socializing, and at just $12 to $13 an hour, it is not enough.” Bi attended a recent Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation hosted by UFCW 1518 last March, during which members shared their ideas about what the government’s plan should look like. The event included facilitation in Cantonese and Mandarin, to include the voices of the large number of Chinese members in attendance. “A lot of my coworkers from the Chinese community, they don’t have much knowledge about how to fight for their rights,” continues Bi. “But here we can make a collective difference.” According to Smith, it’s critical that the labour movement play a role in poverty reduction “because we can speak for the role of organizing as a way out of poverty for workers.” Ultimately, it goes back to the union’s commitment to fight for fairness not just for members but for all. “To me our union gives strength in two ways: Looking inward in solidarity with our members, but also looking outward to the members of our community,” adds Smith. “It means a lot to me that our union is committed to broader social justice struggles.” The NDP will release the first provincial report leading up to the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy in June, with poverty reduction legislation expected this fall.

STEPHANIE SMITH is UFCW 1518's representative on the BC Poverty Reduction Coaltion.

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NEWS

A FAIR LABOUR CODE BC’s Labour Code should protect workers’ rights & promote fairness

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s part of its commitment to improve fairness for workers, the NDP is conducting a review of the BC Labour Relations Code. The Code is the main legislation governing employment standards in the province’s unionized workplaces, including collective bargaining, dispute resolution and access to union representation. According to Irene Lanzinger, president of the BC Federation of Labour, the province's labour laws and their application have become “unfair and unbalanced” after 16 years of pro-corporate Liberal rule. “They have become radically tilted in favour of employers who are allowed to intervene with near

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ABBY LEUNG & KEITH MURDOCH presented the union's recommendations to the BC Labour Code review panel.

impunity to try to prevent workers from exercising their constitutional right to join a union to improve wages and conditions,” she explains. A review panel consisting of a labour representative, an employer representative and a chairperson held public consultations in March and April. The panel is tasked with reviewing the Code to ensure BC’s unionized workplaces support fair laws for workers and businesses, and are consistent with the labour rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians. There have been significant changes in workplaces, the economy and the workforce since the last comprehensive review of the Code was conducted in 2003. In particular, the Code has not kept paced with developments in constitutional law, which now recognizes labour rights as constitutional rights.


“This is the first review of the Code since the Supreme Court of Canada fully and forcefully determined freedom of association for the purpose of collective bargaining and the right to strike as constitutional rights,” explains President Ivan Limpright. “These were landmark legal developments that need to be reflected in all areas of the Code so that our labour laws protect and enhance these essential workers’ rights.” UFCW 1518 organizers Keith Murdoch and Abby Leung presented the union’s recommendations at one of the review panel’s public consultations. “The current legislation is creating significant challenges for workers wanting to form unions, especially in sectors with high levels of turnover and seasonal workers,” says Murdoch. He told the panel about a recent organizing campaign in Whistler-Blackcomb where the employer had an unfair advantage due to its exclusive access to the employee list. This is why UFCW 1518 recommended equal access to the employee list. “We need to provide workers with the building blocks to form their union while ensuring that all workers have a fair opportunity to make an informed choice about joining the union or not,” Murdoch comments. UFCW 1518 made other recommendations to ensure the Code meets the need for meaningful access to collective bargaining, including a return

to card-based certification, reducing the maximum time for a vote, and restoring the prohibition against anti-union campaigning. “Mandatory vote systems are a demonstrated invitation to improper and unlawful employer conduct that prevents the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association by employees,” Murdoch adds. “The employer has a lot of power over their employees. They shouldn’t be allowed to use their resources and influence to steer workers to a decision that they prefer.” The review panel will report its findings to the Minister of Labour Harry Bains in August.

UFCW 1518 LABOUR CODE RECOMMENDATIONS: • R e t u r n to c a rd - b a s e d certification • Eliminate anti-union campaigns by employer • Remove barriers to unionization • Reflect constitutional changes • Restore fairness and balance

BACK IN THE DAY A Labour Day Parade along Cordova St. in Vancouver, BC about 1894. Local 279, now known as UFCW 1518, participated in Vancouver's Labour Day parades from 1900 to 1903. City of Vancouver Archives STR.P.1.N.22

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PROFILE

AN INTERVIEW WITH:

Chief Rhonda Larrabee RECLAIMING HISTORY Leading the Qayqayt First Nation from the brink of extinction When Rhonda Larrabee received her status card as a member of the Qayqayt First Nation in 1994, she became the first documented member of the New Westminster Indian Band, taking the community off the Inactive General List of Reserves. She would soon learn the significance of that. “My phone started ringing non-stop,” Larrabee recounts. Many of the First Nations leaders who got in touch encouraged her to carry on the legacy of her lost community. So she did, educating herself about her history and that of the Qayqayt. Today, Larrabee is the chief of her nation. “Growing up my mom told me she was of Chinese and French descent,” she remembers. It wasn’t until she was in her mid-20s while trying to build her family tree that Larrabee learned the truth about her heritage. “My mom said: ‘I’ll tell you once but never ask again and never talk about it again.’” Chief Larrabee’s mother told her that day about her experience in residential school and the loss of her family. Her mother also spoke of her decision to change her appearance to appear less Indigenous. After her mother passed away, Chief Larrabee was determined to learn more about her mother’s history and to honour her memory. Under Chief Larrabee’s leadership, the Qayqayt community has grown to almost 100 documented members. The First Nation has reclaimed its fishing rights and is currently working to re10

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establish a reserve. A claim for a land base was filed in 2012 and negotiations with the government have been ongoing since 2015. “My mom always dreamt to own a home and have a piece of land she could call hers. She always said: ‘It’s the land that’s important.’” Chief Larrabee takes pride in the recognition the Qayqayt are receiving, thanks to her work. In 2014, a school in New Westminster was named after her nation: the École Qayqayt Elementary School, built on the site of the former St. Mary’s Hospital. “That was a big accomplishment for me,” says Larrabee. “That was the hospital where my mother was born and where my grandparents and great uncles and aunts passed away.” Today, Chief Larrabee dedicates herself full-time to creating awareness of Indigenous history and the critical need for reconciliation. “What we need is for Canadians not only to learn but to understand what happened to our community. How this molded their lives and made Indigenous people feel ashamed, unloved and unwanted.” As a now-retired unionized worker, she says labour has

an important responsibility in the reconciliation process. “We need to provide reconciliation training, provide jobs to Indigenous people and have employers understand Indigenous culture,” she says, adding that cultural awareness is still lacking in the workplace. “How many Aboriginal workers would like to spend time with their families on Aboriginal Day or when we have the salmon festival or spiritual ceremonies, but are still mandated to be at work?” At UFCW 1518, Chief Larrabee has become a wellknown figure, providing a traditional welcome to the Qayqayt territory at union meetings and events. She is grateful for the platform and acknowledgement the union has provided, including last year’s renaming of the Members Hall to Qayqayt Hall. “It’s been quite a journey to bring this awareness to New West,” says Chief Larrabee. “I went to Safeway the other day and a woman, member of this union, looked at me and said: ‘Are you coming to our union meeting this week?’ People recognize me now. It’s great that we are finally being seen.”

Helen Zhai discovered the leader in her through her union involvement When she became a shop steward last year after 10 years working at the Station Square PriceSmart, Zhai was worried she didn’t have what it took. “I always liked to keep myself knowledgeable about my contract but at first I was not sure if my personality was the right one for the job.” Encouraged by her union representative, she decided to take on more of a workplace leadership role and become a shop steward. And she hasn’t looked back since. “It makes me happy to have the ability to help,” says Zhai. “In our store we get a lot of new hires and they needed someone to educate them who could speak both English and Mandarin. It was time for me to step up.”

MEMBER PROFILE: HELEN ZHAI

Now Zhai is looking for more challenges to take on, even if they involve getting out of her comfort zone. At last year’s retail bargaining conference, she spoke at the mic after being nominated for the Save-On-Foods bargaining committee. “I didn’t know if I was ready but I encouraged myself to speak up,” she recounts. “I saw Kim Novak and how she could inspire people being so young. One Title & Name of Person Quoted day, I hope I can also do that.” S u mme r 2 01 8

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E R TU A FE

RIGHTING

PAST WRONGS Why reconciliation matters in the workplace and beyond

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heir days began at 5:30am. Before breakfast, morning c h o re s included cleaning washrooms, milking cows and sweeping floors. After morning mass and three hours of classes, there was more work to be done. Children prepared meals for the following day, weeded gardens and chopped wood. It was forbidden to speak in their mother tongue or to interact with their siblings. If they were lucky, there were a couple of hours to play and study. Students worked more hours than a full-time worker does today. They had no sick days or weekends off. The youngest among them was five.

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she knows this story too well. “Most of my friends are gone now,” she says. August belongs to the Squamish First Nation and is the sibling of former Squamish Chief Joe Mathias. “My friends committed suicide or got into drugs,” she continues. “They just couldn’t handle remembering anymore.”

explained how the Canadian government accomplished cultural genocide by eliminating Indigenous governments, ignoring Indigenous rights, terminating the treaties and through assimilation causing the erasure of Indigenous people as legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada.

For over a century, the Canadian government placed over 150,000 Indigenous children in residential schools where they were subject to forced labour, physical and sexual abuse and starvation. An estimated 6000 died. Taken from their families, often forcibly, a third of these children would never return home. Save-OnFoods member Dulcie August is a residential school survivor:

Shamefully, the last residential school did not close until 1996 and the destructive legacies of colonization continue to this day. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) called the residential school system a policy of cultural genocide. Established in 2008, the TRC interviewed nearly 7000 residential school survivors. In its final report, delivered seven years later, it

The focus of the TRC was to understand the legacy of the residential school system in order to lay the foundation for reconciliation. Its 94 calls to action are not only an invitation to begin that process: they are an indictment of the inequitable relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous that remains ongoing. For Canada’s First Nations, colonization has not ended.

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MEMBERS KATRINA MICHELS, ANITA LETENDRE & DULCIE AUGUST outside the Chief Joe Mathias Centre in the Capilano Reserve.

SETTLERS “We didn’t choose to go live in a reserve,” says Gary Johnson, a shop steward at Safeway in Powell River. “It was the government who put us there.” Johnson belongs to the Gitsan and Carrier bands from the Glen Vowell and Babine Nations, and grew up on a reserve in northern BC. Along with the residential school system, the reserve system was forced upon the First Nations in British Columbia, a province where the vast majority of land is unceded. That means it was never formally relinquished through the signing of treaties. Aboriginal title is an unresolved issue that causes conflict with

settler society over natural resources across Canada. In BC, however, the courts have been decisive in recent years that the government does not have clear title to the land. A 2014 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada was particularly momentous for Indigenous land rights. The ruling acknowledged the Ts i l h q o t ’ i n N at i o n ’s entitlement to their ancestral land not signed away in treaties. Today many of the land claims launched by BC’s First Nations are unresolved or abandoned. But shortly after being elected in 2017, the NDP agreed to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, signaling its commitment to reconciliation and land recognition. S u mme r 2 01 8

Respect for Indigenous land is part of reconciliation, says Judy Wilson, Chief of the Neskonlith First Nation. “When you look at reserve creation and how they placed us on 0.2 percent of the land base of Canada, while the Crown assumed their title to 99.8 percent, that was not coexisting with Indigenous people.” Chief Wilson is a leader in land defense against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, a project that proposes to cross her band’s territory without their consent. Despite fierce opposition from the Neskonlith and other First Nations, individuals and community organizations, the pipeline is being pushed by the federal government. “The pipeline threatens our culture, our spirituality and our identity, our way of life,” Chief Wilson told the media at Kinder Morgan’s Annual General Meeting in Texas. “That means, fundamentally, more to us than anything...” Dispossession of the land is more than a physical loss to Indigenous people. “The essential harm of colonization is that the living relationship between our people and our land has been severed,” writes Taiaiake Alfred in his essay It’s All About the Land. “By fraud, abuse, violence and sheer force of numbers, white society had forced us into the situation of being refugees and trespassers in our own homelands and we are prevented from maintaining the physical, spiritual and cultural relationships necessary for our continuation as nations.” The colonial legacy of land dispossession surfaces in the labour movement. UFCW 1518’s main office, for example, sits on the traditional territory of the Qayqayt First Nation. A plaque in the foyer offers this recognition. “By acknowledging the history •

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The labour movement stands for equality, so it just makes sense to me that our union plays a part in reconciliation.” ANITA LETENDRE has experienced racialized oppression in the workplace.

of this land, we recognize the injustice that took place,” says President Ivan Limpright. “It is a small but necessary step toward reconciliation, toward righting a wrong that we ourselves didn’t commit, but that we are all responsible to rectify.” That’s why UFCW 1518’s meeting rooms have THREE WORDS been renamed CAPTION Veruntem. after the First Nations in regions Desenduciate Xime vere where many union members live, including nisite molupta pa ditist Qayqayt, Sto:lo, Tsleil-Waututh, Songhees and Musqueam. Union meetings and events now begin with a territorial acknowledgement and often, a traditional welcome by the Chief of the Qayqayt First Nation, Rhonda Larrabee. “When members come to a union meeting at Qayqayt Hall and hear about the truth of the land, the learning begins, and hopefully, the healing too,” adds President Limpright.

WORKERS “When the social services people came after my mother passed away, they said we were going to get a good education. They promised we would get looked after every day,” explains August about they day she was taken to residential school. “It was the total opposite. All the work became routine to me at some point. For four years I did everything they said, every day, until my sister got us out of there and showed me a freedom I didn’t know I had.” According to the TRC, the residential school was also a system of institutionalized child labour. Although the labour movement was instrumental in establishing laws regulating child labour, residential schools were somehow exempt. Education in these institutions was undermined by the significant amount of work children were forced to do. They were in the classroom for half 14

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a day and the rest of their time was spent in socalled vocational training: repetitive, unsafe and often unsupervised work that provided little in the way of skills development. Such a regimen fulfilled the purpose of operating the schools on a nearly cost-free basis, but at great expense to First Nations children. The residential school system inflicted deep emotional and psychological damage on Indigenous children that would be passed down through generations. But that wasn’t the only damning legacy: the theft of educational and economic success of Indigenous people is another lasting scar. The inadequate and abusive learning environments contributed to the poor success rates of First Nations students, many of whom left residential school with no more than Grade 3 achievement — and sometimes without even the ability to read. This, in turn, has led to today’s chronic unemployment or under-employment of Indigenous workers as well as the cycle of poverty and addiction that afflicts many First Nations people. While there is no consensus as to what reconciliation means, what is certain is that it is everyone’s responsibility, including unionized workers. “The labour movement stands for equality, so it just makes sense to me that our union plays a part in reconciliation,” says Johnson. As part of its social justice mandate, UFCW Canada is committed to fostering reconciliation in workplaces and communities across the country. Using an established reconciliation framework, the Indigenous Sub-Committee fights for Indigenous justice by celebrating and promoting events aimed at educating workers and the public about First Nations rights and history. One such event is the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration, which takes place in June in Winnipeg. Organized by UFCW 832, the annual event is an opportunity for Indigenous workers, including members of UFCW 1518, to build solidarity and celebrate their heritage.


Additionally, the sub-committee advocates for policy changes at all levels of government to advance equity for Indigenous workers throughout the country. It also supports other like-minded social justice organizations, such as the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. This work is advanced through campaigns like the one demanding an end to the discrimination of Indigenous children. The online campaign calls upon the federal government to “address the flawed delivery and inadequate funding of health care, education, and other social services for First Nations children.” At the local level, another way unions advance reconciliation is by organizing Indigenous workers. In 1990, workers at the Vancouver Native Housing Society voted to join UFCW 1518. The society is a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing to the urban Indigenous community. “When we organize First Nations workers and bring the union to Indigenous-dominated workplaces, we bring fairness where it has systemically been lacking,” comments President Limpright. “When we acknowledge their celebrations, we honour their heritage. And when we fight for First Nations people at the level of policy, we address structural inequities that have harmed them for too long. Those are things unions can and should do.”

FIGHTERS

oppression and prejudice her entire life, including in the workplace: “I worked at a restaurant for a while. One day a customer said to me when I went up to her table, ‘when did they start letting people like you work here? You know, Indian people.’” UFCW Canada and locals like UFCW 1518 have taken the first steps toward reconciliation, but there is more to be done. “We must continually build opportunities for education and reconciliation into the daily work of the union,” comments President Limpright. “That’s why we invite First Nations people to our union office and our events. That connection, that firsthand learning, is essential if we are to properly address the ongoing ill effects of colonialization.” President Limpright points to the 2018 Health Care Conference, where members and staff were invited to participate in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. The interactive workshop brings Indigenous history to life by asking participants to take on the role of First Nations people in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they watch it slowly disappear before their eyes. With many in tears at the end, participants shared the same disbelief: How could we have not known? More importantly they asked: what can we do now that we do? After hundreds of years of colonization, reconciliation is sure to take time. Unions are well positioned to lead the way, but the process is not entirely formal or structural; there is personal responsibility as well. “It is in our daily conversations and interactions that our success as a nation in forging a better place will ultimately be measured,” says Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the TRC. “It is what we say to and about each other in public and private that we need to look at changing.”

“I see injustice all over the place,” says Johnson. “Our people get mistreated for being native and it’s because people are biased in their perception of what it means to be Indigenous.” In order for the labour movement to account for its role in colonization, unions need to reevaluate their practices in everything from organizing and hiring to member engagement and education. They also need to ensure they are actively reaching out to First Nations communities in order to foster a better MEMBERS & STAFF participating in understanding of their needs in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise during the reconciliation process. Health Care Conference. “Growing up in school people used to call me a squaw,” re co u n t s S ave - O n - Fo o d s member and shop steward Anita Letendre. “I didn’t learn until later that was a derogative term for Indigenous people.” Letendre grew up in foster care with little knowledge of her heritage. Nevertheless, she has experienced racialized

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THE UFCW 1518 LOBBY NEWS DAY CREW outside the BC Legislature in Victoria, BC.

TRUTH TO POWER Members speak truth to power at Lobby Day

THREE WORDS CAPTION Veruntem. Desenduciate Xime vere nisite molupta pa ditist

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EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT PATRICK JOHNSON & UFCW CANADA MARK HENNESSY leading a lobby training.

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ifty members from all sectors across the province gathered in Victoria last May to speak truth to power at UFCW 1518’s first Lobby Day in 16 years.

The event kicked off with a four-hour workshop for executive board members, activists and stewards to train them in the fine art of lobbying. “It’s been a year since the election and we wanted to celebrate the new NDP government and all of the important changes they’ve made for working people and families,” says executive assistant Patrick Johnson. “What better way than to meet with ministers and MLAs and continue to carry forward the message of our members, which is that there’s still work to be done?” About 20 ministers and MLAs attended a meetand-greet co-hosted by the Retail Action Network, a network of retail workers and labour activists that fights for workplace justice and improved conditions in the retail sector. “It was an incredible opportunity for our members to meet and chat informally with politicians who are the decision makers on really important issues, like poverty reduction, Labour Relations Code reform and the need to protect precarious workers,” comments Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “And importantly, it helped nurture relationships between the union and the ruling government. That is simply invaluable."

MEMBERS & MLAS BOWINN MA, RAVI KAHLON, LEONARD KROG & RACHNA SINGH at our Lobby Day reception.

Novak says that after attending the evening social event, Health Minister Adrian Dix reached out to her to schedule a formal meeting at the Legislature the next day. In all, members and leadership sat down with 13 ministers and MLAs, including Harry Bains, the Minister of Labour.

MARK HENNESSY, PATRICK JOHNSON, & MLAS RICK GLUMAC & MITZI DEAN at our Lobby Day reception.

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MINISTER OF LABOUR HARRY BAINS met with Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak, Executive Assistant Patrick Johnson & members.

MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTIONS JUDY DARCY met with members from the community health sector.

Creating opportunities to connect with political leaders is essential to ensure the government knows what working people need.” “Creating opportunities to connect with political leaders is essential if we are to ensure the government knows what working people need,” Novak explains. “Minister Bains understands the complexity of the Sobeys dispute, the difficulties it is causing for our members, and the potential negative impact on our economy. And he is open to hearing from working people. That’s powerful.” Members also met with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Education. Danielle Stohl, a care aide who works at Nanaimo Home Support, says she was honoured to represent UFCW 1518 in her meeting with Leonard Krod, the MLA for Nanaimo. “We have so many problems at work, and also in our community. Leonard is my MLA and I was able to tell him about them face to face, which is amazing.” 18

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MINISTER OF INDIGENOUS RELATIONS & RECONCILIATION SCOTT FRASER with staff & members.


UNIONS’ ENEMIES NEVER SLEEP A review of On the Line by Rod Mickleburgh Last year the richest one percent took home a record 82 percent of the world's wealth. As income inequality has now reached its highest point since the Great Depression, it's important to look at the history of the labour movement and the lessons of the past. In this context, On the Line: A History of the British Columbia Labour Movement, by Rod Mickleburgh, is a timely book that tells our stories. It is a history not of the Dunsmuirs and MacMillans and other wealthy business elite but of the working men and women who built the province. People like Ginger Goodwin, Harvey Murphy and Slim Evans. The lesson of this working class history is clear: standing up and fighting back is the key to victory. But we must remember that our hard fought and hard won rights were not given to us by the generosity of the powerful. They were seized, demanded, taken — in large part because the people who came before us fought for them. According to Mickleburgh, “the history of the labour movement in BC is a history of gains won, then eroded.” So not only do we have to fight for everything we have, we must be ready to fight to keep it. Nestled within the 300 page book, chock full of historic photographs, are nuggets from UFCW

1518’s own history, such as our union’s valiant effort to organize Fraser Valley farm workers in the wake of mounting fatalities. Despite some early success by the Canadian Farmworkers Union in the 1970s and 1980s, farm workers were notoriously difficult to organize. With great tenacity, however, UFCW 1518 won BC’s first certification of migrant workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program in 2004. Although the seasonal nature of the work soon led to decertification, UFCW 1518 persisted, setting up assistance centres for migrant farm workers and hiring a Mexican worker as a full-time organizer. This enabled the union to successfully organize more farming operations, resulting in a legal battle that went from the BC Labour Relations Board all the way to the BC Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. A subsequent certification brought seniority rights, paid breaks, improved vacation pay, a wage increase and recall rights to give priority to those who wanted to return the next season in a landmark deal for farm workers. Mickleburgh also tells the backstory of a proud moment in UFCW 1518’s history: the unionization of home care workers in BC. Called “housekeepers”, these workers toiled in isolation and precarious conditions at low wages, with no job security or other protections. The union set about the difficult task of organizing these workers against terrible odds and succeeded. In 1987, home care workers joined UFCW 1518, including 57 members from the last unit of the Service, Office and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada. SORWUC was a grassroots feminist union, small but formidable, and it had done the impossible: in 1977, it won automatic certification at Canada’s five chartered banks. In the end, SORWUC was overwhelmed by the big banks’ deep pockets, which exhausted the tiny union’s resources, and the dream of unionized bank workers faded. But the legacy of fighting for fairness lives on in UFCW 1518, where it guides and informs the daily work of the union. On the Line explores many important battles of working people from pre-Confederation up to the present day, including BC teachers’ long and ultimately successful fight for improved classroom conditions. But, as Mickleburgh warns “unions’ enemies never sleep,” which is why the struggle must continue. On The Line is available to order online at labourheritagecentre.ca.

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BARGAINING UPDATE

MEMBERS & STAFF at our 2018 Health Care Confernece.

COMMUNITY HEALTH Bargaining for our members in community health and community social services began in May, after the government invited unions for early contract talks. About 2200 UFCW 1518 members are covered by the HEABC and CSSEA collective agreements, which do not expire until March 31, 2019. The Community Bargaining Association (CBA) is the bargaining agent for 16,000 community health workers across British Columbia. UFCW 1518 bargains collectively as part of that association, along with BCGEU, HEU, HSA, CUPE, and USWA. The Community Social Services Bargaining Association (CSSBA) represents about 15,000 workers in the community social services sector. It is composed of 10 unions, including UFCW 1518, BCGEU, HEU, HSA, CUPE, CSU and SEIU. UFCW 1518 has been preparing for negotiations since late last year, soliciting member feedback and proposals in order to identify bargaining priorities. The union also held its Taking the Pulse health care conference in May to discuss the upcoming negotiations and review proposals. Proposals have been exchanged at both tables, with the unions focused on increased funding and benefits as well as the critical need to address recruitment, retention, and precarious work schedules. Both parties acknowledge that building a more robust community health and social services sector is essential for accommodating an aging population. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” says Secretary-Treasurer Kim Novak. “After 16 years of neglect of the community health and social services that are core to British Columbia’s health care system, it’s time for change. I’m pleased we have now entered into a more positive negotiating climate with an employer that understands the value of our community health workers.” Bargaining is expected to take five weeks. Visit ufcw1518.com for the latest bargaining news. 20

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THE SAVE-ON-FOODS BARGAINING COMMITTEE

SAVE-ON-FOODS Negotiations with Save-On-Foods for the reopener of the collective agreement began in February, approaching the midway point of a 10-year deal. Talks broke off briefly in April after 40 days of bargaining had failed to advance discussions to monetary items. “There were too many outstanding issues due to the employer’s lack of response and refusal to move on their position,” explains President Ivan Limpright. Following an interest-based model of bargaining, the union negotiating committee tabled proposals distilled from thousands of submissions gathered from members during the #MembersFirst outreach campaign last fall as well as the bargaining conference. “Our members were very clear about what they wanted from this round of negotiations,” says President Limpright. “They told us their top priorities were improving scheduling and increasing crossclassification to address retention, and tightening up quarterly review language to protect job security.” Wages and benefits are also a top priority: “During bargaining it’s a given that we fight to defend what we have and work to make gains wherever we can.” The parties moved into more substantive monetary discussions in May, and the negotiating committee continues to address the union’s outstanding proposals. For the latest bargaining updates, please visit ufcw1518.com.

THE SAFEWAY BARGAINING COMMITTEE

SAFEWAY Negotiations for the reopener of the collective agreement between UFCW 1518 and Sobeys began in February but stalled when the employer tabled concessions and failed to respond to the union’s proposals. After President Ivan Limpright appealed to the provincial government to intervene, Minister of Labour Harry Bains appointed Special Officer Vince Ready in April. Under Section 106 of the BC Labour Relations Code, a Special Officer can mediate and arbitrate as well as make recommendations and orders in a labour dispute. “The Minister of Labour’s involvement shows the importance of this round of negotiations not only to our members but to the economy,” comments President Limpright. The first meetings with Mr. Ready were scheduled for May 28 and 30. As part of his appointment, Mr. Ready is overseeing a number of grievances filed in relation to the closure of 10 Safeway stores. This includes the union’s first right of refusal grievance, filed after Sobeys’ denial of UFCW 1518’s contractual right to purchase stores slated for closure, as well as the illegal lockout complaint. Mr. Ready is seized of other grievances, which have been referred to arbitration, regarding Sobeys’ failure to post full-time positions, the demotion of key personnel out of seniority and failure to offer severance to 40-hour service clerks. There remain still more outstanding grievances against Sobeys for violations of the collective agreement. The union is diligently pursuing these and will fight to defend members’ rights and make them whole. S u mme r 2 01 8

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THE

STEWARD

THE FOUR ROLES OF A STEWARD The union steward is a key “link” in our union. As a steward, you make the collective agreement meaningful by helping your co-workers implement their contract and defend their rights on a day-today basis. You are in the best position to understand your co-workers’ concerns and priorities, organize with them to take action, and communicate their priorities to other union leaders. You are also the best person to educate co-workers about our union’s goals. ORGANIZER The most important job of the steward is to build an active, united membership in your workplace. Our ability to defend and improve conditions will always depend on the collective power of our membership. You can nurture this by: • Welcoming new employees and let them know how they can be involved. • Finding ways to involve more members in the activities of our union, such as solving workplace problems, supporting negotiations, and participating in political action and organizing drives. COMMUNICATOR AND EDUCATOR The most effective forms of communication are one-on-one workplace conversations. Flyers, newsletters, emails and meetings are all important, but the best way to inform members, get feedback,

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and encourage participation is through personal contact. Accomplish this by: • Listening and learning about workers’ problems and concerns. • Teaching workers about our union, their rights under our contract, bargaining goals and important issues affecting working people. • Challenging members to help win improvements. • Uniting and inspiring your co-workers to work together. Staying informed and providing a link between workers, stewards, officers and staff. • Educating by example through participation in union campaigns and other activities. PROBLEM SOLVER Stewards should be prepared with various strategies for solving problems. The steward plays a role in enforcing the agreement and defending our members’ rights day to day by: • Mobilizing workers to solve problems as a group. • Solving problems informally with management. • Investigating grievances and bringing the issue to the attention of the union representative. WORKPLACE LEADER A shop steward sets the example as a unifying advocate for workers’ rights by: • Building unity and finding common ground on problems that divide members. • Being an active participant in the union. • Always bringing someone along and mentoring others. • Involving members when advocating on their behalf • Making sure everyone is involved in the union and find ways to break down barriers.


CELEBRATE LABOUR DAY MONDAY, SEPT 3 Join labour family & friends at The Fair at the PNE Hosted by Vancouver & District Labour Council, BC Federation of Labour & UFCW 1518

For free & discounted Fair admission visit ufcw1518.com

ufcw1518.com


UFCW CANADA BDM SCHOLARSHIPS 2018 $18,000 worth of scholarships to be won! Available to UFCW members & their dependents. For more information visit:

ufcw.ca/scholarships

Apply online until September 30, 2018

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

Profile for UFCW 1518

UFCW 1518 Update Summer 2018