NC Co-op Employees Push for Leaves

Bargaining Update

Edmonton, AB – March 13, 2020 – We met again with the Company this past week to keep negotiations moving around some of the proposals we had put on the table in the last round of negotiations meetings.

This week, we focused on many important provisions that need to be introduced in the collective agreement to protect employees and their families during uncertain times. A number of specific job-protected leaves of absence became law under the NDP government in June of 2018 and are crucial for working people in Alberta, particularly now. These leaves include things like:

  • Compassionate Care Leave
  • Critical Illness Leave
  • Death or Disappearance of a Child Leave
  • Domestic Violence Leave

North Central Co-op’s stated vision is to “set the standard in retailing excellence;” however, in our discussions, the company has so far rejected our proposals to incorporate these unpaid leaves into the agreement, even though they are currently the law in Alberta. It seems the company only wants to provide these leaves to employees if the law says they have to, and their position suggests they hope the law will change for the worse. This is an unusual position, as many UFCW workplaces have incorporated these leave provisions into their collective agreements. Why? Because they are good for employees and their families!

Job-protected leave provisions have become a particularly important part of a public conversation in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here are just two to examples of what we’re trying to get into our contract:

  • Compassionate Care Leave

“Employees shall be entitled to up to twenty-seven (27) weeks’ unpaid Compassionate Care Leave for the purpose of providing care or support to a seriously ill family member.”

  • Critical Illness Leave

Employees shall be entitled to Critical Illness Leave as follows:

    • Up to thirty-six (36) weeks’ leave to provide care or support to a child under the age of 18; and/or
    • Up to sixteen (16) weeks’ leave to provide care or support to an adult family member.

As the seriousness of the current public health emergency evolves, and as a public conversation emerges around questionable practices by employers that would seek to restrict employees’ abilities to take necessary time off with job-protected leaves, we are hopeful the company will have a change of heart before our next meeting with them.

We have requested further negotiations dates from the company and are currently waiting to hear back. We were determined to make progress this week and worked late into the night to try to make that happen. Even though the week was not as successful as we had hoped for, our talks are moving forward, and we have been firm and clear with the company on our positions. It was a good week in bargaining.

Stay tuned for further updates!


Your UFCW Local 401 Union Bargaining Committee