Canada Safeway/Sobeys

Canada Safeway has a long history in the retail food industry within the province of Alberta, spanning more than 7 decades. They first became unionized in southern Alberta in 1952, and 1953 in northern Alberta. There are now 75 retail stores across the province in addition to gas bars and liquor stores, where we represent approximately 8200 workers.  Our members assist customers, run cash registers, stock shelves, bake, put out produce and provide floral and pharmacy services. Surviving many changes over the years, Canada Safeway was purchased by Sobeys in 2014.

FOR CURRENT NEWS ON OUR NEGOTIATIONS WITH SOBEYS IN ALBERTA, VISIT OUR SOBEYS BARGAINING UPDATE PAGE.

FOR INFORMATION ON OUR PREPARATIONS FOR A POSSIBLE STRIKE AT SAFEWAY, CHECK OUT OUR STRIKE PREP PAGE.


Sobeys refuses to improve their offer:

80% of you say we should take a strike vote to push for better

Update – June 10, 2020

Last week, we shared with you the company’s latest offer for a new union contract for Alberta Safeway employees. So many of you were disappointed with that offer, so in bargaining meetings this week, we pushed the company to improve it. Unfortunately, Sobeys is not interested in doing that without a push. Today, the government-appointed mediator has decided to “write out,” which under Alberta law, sets in motion the process of a strike vote by the end of this month.

In our poll of Safeway employees over the past week, nearly 80% of over 1,500 respondents said we should push for a strike vote.

The company has never taken employees seriously without a push. In fact, since 1992, we’ve had to vote to strike in all but one round of negotiations with Safeway. In that time, there’s only been one strike with Safeway – in 1997.

In other words, taking a strike vote doesn’t mean you will strike, but it is the kind of show of strength and unity that makes the company pay attention.

A strong strike vote will send a strong message to Sobeys that they need to take you seriously and will greatly improve your union bargaining committee’s leverage at the bargaining table.

If there is a positive strike vote, here’s what will happen:

  1. We won’t call a strike right away
  2. We will ask the company to return to the bargaining table, take you seriously, and improve their offer
  3. Even with a positive strike vote, THERE WILL BE NO STRIKE UNTIL THERE IS ANOTHER VOTE ON THE COMPANY’S FINAL OFFER

What’s next?

While we are disappointed in the company’s perspective, we are not surprised. Sobeys has said clearly that they won’t give you what you deserve unless you push them. The only legal way for us to do that is with a strong YES vote from the membership in favour of taking strike action.

We’ve been polling you, we know what your priorities are, and we know how you feel about the company’s offer. In fact, only 14% of respondents tell us they feel Sobeys’ latest offer could be acceptable.

You have also told us clearly (by 80%) that you want us to take a strike vote in order to push the company to improve their offer. We’re listening to you, and we are now applying to the Alberta Labour Relations Board for a government-supervised strike vote.

Voting to strike is your legal right

Not only is voting to strike your legal right — it’s also one of the only ways we can legally push big companies like Sobeys to listen.

Sobeys will tell you that voting in favour of a strike is a bad idea. We fully expect the company to campaign for a NO vote. After all, they want you ALL to take what only 14% of you find acceptable.

But the law is clear: the company cannot pressure or coerce you in any way to not exercise your rights. That would be an unfair labour practice and a violation of labour laws. Please let us know immediately if management or anyone acting on their behalf pressures you in any way not to exercise your right to take a strike vote for something better.

Again, a strong strike vote will send a strong message to Sobeys that they need to take you seriously. 14% is an abysmal approval rating. It’s time to make sure we’re wearing our union buttons to let everyone know we’re united!

Strike and picketing information

For many of you, this situation may seem new and perhaps a little daunting, but the possibility of a strike is something we’ve been communicating about for many months. And we’ve done this before!

In the coming days, we’ll be sending out further information covering the key outstanding issues and more extensive information about strike votes and how they can help us get the deal we deserve.

For your convenience, we’ve provided extensive information about strikes, picketing, and picket pay on our website at www.gounion.ca/strikeprep. This information will be continually updated.

When and where will the strike votes happen?

Due to physical distancing restrictions, we will be holding information sessions on the company’s offer via Telephone Town Hall. These meetings will include details about the offer as well as information on what happens after the strike vote.

TELEPHONE TOWN HALL INFORMATION MEETINGS

June 22 at 7 PM
June 23 at 11 AM
June 24 at 7 PM

Please call 1.800.252.7975 if you need to update your contact information. If you miss our call, UFCW Local 401 members can participate online at http://www.gounion.ca/tth

STRIKE VOTE – VOTING LOCATIONS

Strike votes are supervised by the Alberta Labour Relations Board. Only UFCW Local 401 members working at Safeway can vote, and you must vote in person. Eligibility rules are available from the Alberta Labour Relations Board here: http://www.alrb.gov.ab.ca/bulletins/votingrules.pdf

All those who attend the voting locations are required to wear a mask while in line or in the voting area. We will provide masks to any member who does not have their own.

You can vote at any of the following locations in the province:

CITY/TOWN DATE TIME LOCATION
Brooks Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Union Office
(631A Sutherland Drive)
Calgary Thursday, June 25
or
Friday, June 26
10 AM – 8 PM Calgary North
Sheraton Cavalier
(2620 – 32 Avenue NE)
McKnight Ballroom

Calgary South
Delta Hotel
(135 Southland Drive)
Nakiska Conf. Room

Camrose Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Ramada by Wyndham
(4702 – 73 Street)
Canmore Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Holiday Inn
(1 Silvertip Trail)
Assiniboine Room
Edmonton Thursday, June 25
or
Friday, June 26
10 AM – 8 PM Edmonton North
Chateau Nova Yellowhead
13920 Yellowhead Trail
Grizzly Room

Edmonton South
Holiday Inn & Conf. Centre
(4485 Gateway Blvd)
Evergreen A

Fort McMurray Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Stonebridge Hotel
(9713 Hardin Street)
Clearwater Room
Grande Prairie Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Pomeroy Hotel
(11633 – 100 Street)
Salon B
Hinton Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Ramada by Wyndham
(149 Woodley Drive)
Lethbridge Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Holiday Inn Lethbridge
(2375 Mayor Magrath Dr S)
Crossroads Room
Lloydminster Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Holiday Inn
(5612 – 44 Street)
Alberta Room
Medicine Hat Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM Holiday Inn Express
(#9 Strachan Bay)
Cottonwood/Coulee
Red Deer Thursday, June 25 10 AM – 8 PM UFCW 401 Union Office
(#1, 4646 Riverside Drive)
Wetaskiwin Friday, June 26 10 AM – 8 PM UFCW Roving Voting Station
(Parking lot off 40th Ave and 56 Street)

If you have any questions, please reach out to your shop steward or Union Labour Relations Officer at 1.800.252.7975 or ufcw@ufcw401.ab.ca.

 

The Company’s Concessions

During a time of record grocery sales and unprecedented profits, Sobeys is asking for unreasonable concessions at the bargaining table. Why is the company looking to take important benefits away from the employees who have worked so hard and risked so much to make them successful during COVID-19?

Update – May 22, 2020

Quick Read 

  • Not only is Sobeys trying to take away your hard-earned benefits, they are also working to outsource your jobs 
  • You’re under incredible strain during COVID-19 
  • Despite that strain, you have been there for the company 
  • As a result, their stores are open and they continue making record profits 
  • At the same time, they are trying to negotiate changes that will take work, hours, and pay away from you 
  • While everyone else is coming together to fight COVID-19, Sobeys is working to divide and conquer us at the bargaining table 
  • We must send them a strong message by supporting a strike vote if necessary 
  • If Sobeys won’t treat you fairly at the bargaining table, they’ll have to explain why to the public 

 Full Update 

Unfortunately, our updates on Sobeys’ approach to negotiations are about to go from bad to worse.  

Your union has heard from so many hardworking Safeway employees about all the stress and anxiety that COVID-19 has caused you.  

You’re worried about your safety and getting sick. Measures to protect you vary from store to store and are often poorly communicated. Customers are stressed out and anxious and sometimes they’re taking it out on you!   

In the midst of all of this, Safeway workers have remained calm and composed. You remain focused on doing your job. You’re supporting the public through this challenging time by ensuring the food they need gets to their tables. And you remain committed to ensuring that Safeway customers continue shopping at a good grocery store and that they can get their groceries the safe way! 

You would think that Sobeys would be grateful for all that you’re doing. You would think that they would be looking for ways to say thank you and share in the skyrocketing sales they are currently experiencing. 

You would think that… but unfortunately, you would be wrong.   

So what is Sobeys doing at the bargaining table? Well, in addition to taking away your hard-earned benefits, they are also looking to outsource your jobs. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  

While you are doing everything you can to make their stores successful, working long hours under incredible strain to support their skyrocketing sales, Sobeys is pushing to take work, hours, and pay away from you. 

If that makes your jaw drop, don’t worry you’re not alone. Your union is as shocked as you are.  

And you can rest assured that we will fight Sobeys’ heartlessness with everything we’ve got!   

How is Sobeys trying to outsource your jobs in these unprecedented and uncertain times? Here are a couple of examples: 

  • They are trying to remove all managers from your union, stripping them of the security that being part of a union provides 
  • They are trying to allow third-party vendors like Coke, Pepsi, Lays, and Old Dutch to work stock in the stores, which will take workhours, and pay away from you 
  • They are trying to remove Pharmacy Technicians from your union, fragmenting our membership and weakening your negotiating power  
  • They are trying to bring third-party kiosks into the stores, which will take even more work, hours, and pay away from you, make stores even less safe, and increase your exposure to infection

At a time when people around the world are coming together to fight COVID-19, Sobeys is using classic divide and conquer tactics at the bargaining table. They are pushing to take work, hours, and pay away from you while making their stores less safe.  

Sobeys’ efforts to undermine your work at a time when you have demonstrated that you are there for them is frankly disturbing 

Add to this that Sobeys is also trying to take money out of your pockets at a time when they are enjoying record sales and it becomes clear that they care more about their profits than they do about their people.  

The time to push back is now. 

We must send Sobeys a strong message by supporting a strike vote if they don’t change their behaviour at the bargaining table next week.  

Your union and Bargaining Committee have done everything in their power to meet the company halfway. We’ve been open, measured, and proactive in negotiations. But at some point we must draw a line in the sand.  

If Sobeys won’t treat your fairly at the bargaining table they’ll have to explain why to the public. 

Update – May 20, 2020

Quick Read 

  • Sobeys isn’t just failing to treat your fairly at the bargaining table, they are trying to take benefits away from you 
  • These concessions are unjustifiable while the company is making record profits 
  • Your union has been proactive and measured in negotiations, but the time to push back has come 
  • Sobeys’ concessions could put a serious dent in your budget at a time when you are working harder than ever to ensure their success 
  • Sobeys should be asking what more they can give you as thanks for all your hard work 
  • If they won’t, we’ll make them explain their heartless actions to the public 
  • To change their behaviour at the bargaining table, we must send them a strong message by supporting a strike vote if necessary

Full Update 

Not only is Sobeys failing to offer you a fair contract that shares in the sudden good fortune you have worked so hard to ensure they are enjoying. The company is going a step further and trying to take important benefits away from you! 

How can Sobeys justify this heartless move when you have risked so much as frontline workers keeping their grocery stores open, operating, and making money? In the view of your union and your Bargaining Committee: they can’t. 

The decision to seek concessions from you in negotiations is not right and we will not sit idly by as the company tries to take your hard-earned benefits from you.  

At your direction, your union and Bargaining Committee have been open, proactive, and measured in our approach to negotiations. Even when Sobeys failed to meet us halfway and placed an unbearable strain on negotiations, we have made every attempt to work with them toward a fair and equitable outcome at the bargaining table. 

But the time has come to push back!  

Here are just some of the things Sobeys is trying to take away from you:  

  • Introducing a 25% co-payment for the full-time health care plan and long-term disability insurance, which could saddle you with a 25% increase in costs while Sobeys is making record profits 
  • Reducing their contributions to part-time benefits, which could limit the ability for part-time members to meet their medical needs while Sobeys reported grocery sales are up by 37% 
  • Reducing their contributions to your dental plan, which could affect important dental work while you are making incredible contributions to keeping Sobeys’ grocery stores open 
  • Eliminating funding for your education and training, limiting your opportunities for professional advancement and self-betterment while you work long hours to maintain their opportunities during COVID-19     

Click here to see a listing of your current benefits.

Sobeys should be asking what more they can give you as thanks for all your hard work over the past weeks and months. Instead, they have come to the bargaining table asking for those rollbacks while you are breaking your backs to keep their stores open.  

This is unacceptable, and we will not stand for it. 

We have to let Sobeys know we are serious about pushing back. If they aren’t prepared to treat you fairly at the bargaining table, they will have to explain why to the public after we secure overwhelming support for action with a strike vote!  

Your union is not quick to walk into a strike, especially with a situation as complicated as COVID-19 still challenging us – but Sobeys has left us with no choice.  

We must send the company a strong message by supporting a strike vote if they don’t change their attitude at the bargaining table! 

Review of Bargaining

As we near the end of mediation with Sobeys, we want to provide Safeway members with an overview of negotiations to date. Understanding what has happened throughout this process will help us to make strong and informed decisions about what we need to start preparing to do moving forward. 

Update – May 16, 2020

Quick Read 

  • The economy turned around in 2020 and grocery sales picked up 
  • COVID-19 changed everything 
  • Grocery sales have surged 
  • Sobeys reports a 37% increase 
  • Sobeys is presented with a unique marketing opportunity: shop the Safeway 
  • The company would not have been able to take advantage of this good fortune without you – they need to share 
  • Sobeys appears not to agree 
  • They have not yet tabled anything on wages and walked out of the last round of mediation 
  • At the end of May, we will be in a legal position to take a strike vote 
  • The company recognizes you in public, but not at the bargaining table 
  • If that doesn’t change, they will have to explain failing to treat your fairly to the public 

 Full Update

So much has changed in 2020. It’s really thrown our negotiations for a loop! 

The economy started to turn around and Canadians started spending more freely. As a result, grocery sales began to pick up and things were starting to look up for Sobeys.  

This was a welcome development for Safeway members. When the company is doing well and grocery sales are up, it ensures we’re in a good position to negotiate a fair contract at the bargaining table.  

Then COVID-19 changed, well, everything. We don’t need to go over the details with you. You’ve been living the details of life with COVID-19. 

And while other businesses have suffered, grocery companies’ sales have been surging even more strongly than they were at the beginning of the year. Sobeys itself has reported a 37% increase in sales!   

People have been forced to stay home and stop dining out, which means they have needed food from grocery stores more than ever. Many people have rediscovered their kitchen and a passion for cooking at home during this challenging time.  

Of course, none of this would be possible without the incredible work of our Safeway members. Food workers throughout the province have been incredibly committed to bringing food to tables of Albertans. 

And those efforts have not gone unnoticed. 

Between their employees’ newfound celebrity and the renewed importance of grocery stores, Sobeys suddenly has a major marketing opportunity on their hands. They can become even more successful by presenting shoppers with the Safeway to shop during COVID-19. 

From our perspective, Sobeys needs to share their tremendous fortune with you. After all, these opportunities wouldn’t exist without your amazing contributions.  

Unfortunately, the company doesn’t appear to agree. 

So far, they have failed to table anything in regard to wages. From the beginning, the company has demonstrated an unwillingness to take about monetary issues. Additionally, their failure to negotiate transparently has resulted in the need for a mediator. 

In the latest round of mediation, they walked out of the process, leaving our Bargaining Committee high and dry after preparing for a productive week of discussions. Needless to say, your Bargaining Committee members were not impressed by this sort of unprofessional behaviour. 

It’s clear that while Sobeys is happy to recognize its hardworking employees in public, they refuse to follow through on that recognition at the bargaining table.  

Our last round of mediation is set to take place on the week of May 25, 2020. Unless something significant changes, Safeway members will need to be ready to push Sobeys to share in their incredible fortune.   

And we firmly believe they should be sharing with you after all you’ve done and put on the line to help them in these challenging times! 

At the end of May, we will be in a legal position to take a strike vote. If Sobeys refuses to treat you fairly in negotiations, they’ll have to explain why to the public!  

Update – May 14, 2020

Quick Read

  • negotiations are about you — the members
  • members of the Bargaining Committee and Council come from the Safeway membership
  • your union has run the successful Good Groceries campaign aimed at engaging Safeway customers and building their solidarity with Safeway workers
  • based on Safeway member direction your union has been sensitive to the company’s situation
  • our approach to negotiations has been measured
  • Sobeys has not been forthcoming with information
  • despite some progress, negotiations have been difficult
  • everything was going to change in 2020

Full Update

Your union’s approach to negotiations with Sobeys has always been about YOU – the membersNegotiations are an open and transparent process that focus on input from and addressing your lives. 

The members of your Bargaining Committee and Council are from the Safeway membership so that the Committee truly represents you at the bargaining table. Not only that, but the proposals we bring to the company during negotiations come directly from you and we asked you to tell your union and Negotiating Committee what you wanted to see accomplished in negotiations through extensive consultations. 

Just like your union, negotiations are always ultimately about ensuring your voice is heard at the bargaining table. This is the most effective way to secure a fair deal from Sobeys. 

As part of that effort, your union has been running an extremely successful campaign called Good GroceriesGood Groceries has been about engaging customers on the importance and value of shopping at a good grocery store like Safeway. The campaign builds on the relationships that exist between those customers and good groceries workers like you. 

Your union has been in Safeway stores, talking to customers, handing out leaflets and thousands of Good Groceries shopping bags to ensure customers hear your voice as clearly as the company. We wanted Safeway customers to understand what we’re trying to achieve at the bargaining table and how it benefits them as well. 

The response to our campaign has been overwhelming. Customers have expressed their solidarity with good groceries workers and frustration with the direction that Sobeys has taken Safeway storesall of which placed us in a good position at the bargaining table. 

But based on your direction, your union and Negotiating Committee were also sensitive to the company’s situation. 

Sobeys over-extended itself with the purchase of Safeway. This is obviously not your fault, but it certainly has an impact on your livelihood and your future. So in keeping with your direction, we bore that fact in mind while in negotiations. 

Adding to the situation was a sluggish economy was sluggish and customers expressing dissatisfaction over the direction of Safeway stores, and you have the company experiencing a real sense of jeopardy. 

So your union’s approach to negotiations have been very measuredWe wish the same could be said for Sobeys. 

While your Negotiating Committee has approached negotiations in an open and honest fashion, Sobeys has not been particularly forthcoming with its plans. The company has consistently stalled important discussions about introducing its FreshCo brand to Alberta. And it has withheld details around potential store closures that have created anxiety among Safeway members. 

While some progress toward securing your best interests had been made through your union’s proactive and productive behaviour at the bargaining table, the company’s failure to act similarly had made negotiations difficult. 

But in 2020, everything was going to change…

Forms

Below are your Safeway Benefit Plan brochures and expense forms. Please don’t forget to fill out both pages of your expense forms.

Effective January 1, 2020, Members of the UFCW – Canada Safeway Limited Part-Time Employee Benefit Trust Fund (Alberta) may choose to have their health claim payments deposited directly to their bank account through direct deposit. Click on the “Benefits Direct Deposit Info & Direct Deposit Registration Form” tab below to access the printable application form (on page 3) to apply. 

If you have any questions feel free to call the Administrator at 1-866-544-9686.

For dental inquires, when you visit your dentist they will have the forms they need to help you. All you need to do is bring your benefit card and plan number. If you have any questions regarding your dental claims, please call the Administrator at:
Dental Retail: 1-866-961-6147
Dental Meats: 1-800-667-2816.

For pension inquiries, please call 1-888-811-7227.

Safeway – Full-time request form

Benefits Direct Deposit Info & Direct Deposit Registration Form Benefits Portal Information SAFEWAY-SOBEYS NOTICE OF BENEFIT IMPROVEMENTS-2016 Safeway Part-Time Benefit Booklet SAFEWAY - Drug and vision expenses form SAFEWAY - PT employee benefits absence from work form SAFEWAY - PT employee benefits over-age dependant declaration SAFEWAY - PT Sick Day Claim Form SAFEWAY - DENTAL absence from work form SAFEWAY - DENTAL over-age dependant declaration SAFEWAY - DENTAL - RETAIL MEAT absence from work form SAFEWAY - DENTAL - RETAIL MEAT over-age dependant declaration