Big First Contract Win for VLRA Members!

Edmonton, AB – June 28, 2019

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to the newest UFCW 401 members who recently negotiated their very first Collective Agreement (Union Contract) with their employer Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC). The Alberta (VLRA) employees voted 96% in favour of a Contract that they can be very proud of.

Operated by CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) the VLRC/VLRA is an independent healthcare service provider that receives some of their funding through the Alberta Government, but relies largely on donors.  They provide support and assistance to the visually impaired through training, which helps their clients remain independent. Providing this tailored, in-home and community care is essential for those navigating their world with limited or no sight.

VLRA employees were certified with Local 401 in November of 2018 and bargaining began with their employer in early 2019.

A Union Contract they can be proud of; these workers now have union representational rights in their new 3-year Contract equal to that which some workers struggle for years to achieve.  Their Union representation and job security language sets out union access and visitation, paid time for stewards when performing their representational duties, as well as strong advocacy rights during discipline meetings, as well as a 12-month sunset clause for discipline (expires after 12 months and is removed from the employee’s file).  Also won, a new “fresh start” clause that guarantees all employees have a clean slate from which to start.  There is a strong employee rights clause, a savings clause, and superior dignity and respect language.

New employees will also have 30-minute Union orientation sessions with their Union Reps to find out all the benefits of belonging to Alberta’s largest private sector Union.  There is also extra time set aside for Stewards and Reps to walk through the Union Contract with new workers to ensure they understand all their rights!

They also achieved excellent leaves of absence rights, a 35-hour work week for full-time employees that includes an option for flex time arrangements. Banked overtime options, paid sick days, as well as up to 3 paid personal days, annual birthday floater paid day off, and an extra floater day every year for those employees who reach 20 years seniority. It doesn’t end there! Employees will have access to 7 days of bereavement leave.  There is also newly negotiated minimum pay guarantees for scheduled hours in the event of office closure due to inclement weather, paid travel time, meal allowances, and payment for out of town accommodations and expenses.

Employees will receive up to 6 weeks’ vacation, excellent union leave language, and paid time off to take employment related courses, which are also paid for by the employer. Employees now also receive paid time off for doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, and even for their fuzzy loved ones’ vet appointments!

All licences will be paid for by the employer, paid health benefits, which include an EI top up for sick leave, pension, dental, and direct pay drug plan to mention a few.  And the cherry on top, part time employees working 28 hours per week are also eligible for these amazing benefits.

Retroactive wage increases were also secured for each employee back to January 1, 2019, plus a minimum guarantee of 2% per year increase to their rates of pay. Some will also receive a dual premium of $2.50 per hour.  These are all significant improvements from their previous compensation packages.

We want to say a big congratulations to the bargaining committee, and all the employees for fighting for a fabulous first Union Contract.  You’ve helped to set the bar for others to follow! Welcome to 401.  We are proud to have you in our family!