Superstore Update: A Negotiating Team That Represents You 

As COVID-19 quickly develops and reshapes many aspects of our lives, UFCW Local 401 remains committed to providing the same attention and care in our efforts to represent and fight for your interests at work. COVID-19 won’t change that commitment. We’re pushing forward. COVID-19 won’t give Loblaw a pass on improving and negotiating a fair union contract. UFCW Local 401 President, Thomas Hesse, and Secretary-Treasurer, Richelle Stewart, have been clear and direct with employers on this: COVID-19 will be no excuse for not getting to the bargaining table. You should have all received our letter to Loblaw. We are fighting for protections and better working conditions during this crisis. We are also keeping our eye on the future; Sobeys has agreed to continue to negotiate, and it is time for Loblaws to come to the table.

How do we negotiate union contracts in the era of COVID-19?

First, we will continue to drive negotiations on our timeline and with our agenda. We have proposed the following dates to the company for Superstore negotiations:

  • May 11 – 13
  • June 22 – 26
  • July 20 -24
  • Aug 17 – 21
  • September 21-25
  • October 5 -9
  • October 26-30

With the need for social distancing, we have been using a software called Teams (by Microsoft) to facilitate remote work and have “gatherings” of many people while they are in different places. It’s currently being offered for free, so we plan to use this resource for negotiations. This will allow us to bring together our Negotiating Team via video conference and will enable us to share documents, discuss issues, and debate proposals together in real-time.

This same platform will allow our Negotiating Team to sit across the screen from Loblaw.

We are also looking into Telephone Town Halls as means for still having large-scale meetings with members at key points during the process.

What does a representative Negotiating Team look like?

It is important that our Negotiations Team look like and represent both the diversity of our members, the situations they face, and the different jobs and departments in stores. That’s why our team will be robust and flexible yet large and diverse.

We have added a Rotating Negotiating Team to our Open-Bargaining toolkit. Rotational Negotiations Teams are composed of diverse representatives that ensure the negotiating committee looks like and is representative of the membership. Union members selected from across the province and from across the store departments will serve on the Negotiating Team on a rotational basis. That is, they are switched in and out of formal negotiations meetings in a coordinated way so that everyone gets a chance to be at the table and at the best and most relevant moments possible.

Our Superstore Negotiating Team will be one of the largest local 401 has ever had. These 28 members will bring geographic and department representation to the bargaining table every time we negotiate. There will be representatives from Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Lloydminster, Fort McMurray, and Grande Prairie.

Beyond the geographical diversity of our committee, we have to represent an incredibly diverse membership. Superstore employees are young workers, seniors, men, women, non-binary, and they are also members who come from all over the world. This diversity is a major strength. Our goal in having such a large committee is to ensure it is representative of the many faces and voices of Superstore Local 401 members.

New ways of connecting

For many, social media has become a part of everyday life. We encourage everyone to share union updates and information on their social media channels. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@ufcw401) and on Instagram (@ UFCW_401). You can also follow commentary on negotiations directly from President Hesse and Secretary-Treasurer Stewart on their New Voices pages.

Even before COVID-19, we were reaching out in ways we haven’t before. This new challenge means we’re going to do more of what we’ve already been doing: reaching out to members by text message, emails, surveys, video, live updates and events, telephone town halls, and more. Expect to know everything about bargaining as soon as it happens. Like we said above, COVID-19 can’t change our commitment to you.

Join us tonight (Wednesday, April 1) for a Local 401-wide Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19

COVID_19 has proven something we’ve always known about our members: you are all heroes for the work you do bringing food to the tables of Albertans. We’re so proud of everyone through this unprecedented challenge. 

UFCW Local 401 union leaders will be hosting a Telephone Town Hall tonight. The topic is “Support, Action, and Voice: Your Union through COVID-19,” and we’ll be connecting with 32,000 UFCW Local 401 members from across Alberta and across the food industry.

Take this marvelous opportunity to participate in your union by phone and bring forward your questions to our leadership. Here are the details

DATE AND TIME: April 1, 2020, 7:00 PM  

CALL-IN DETAILS: 1-877-229-8493. Enter access ID Code 118935# when prompted. 

We’ve provided a lot of information in this update. Stay tuned for more. Once again, expect to be more informed than ever throughout this process. In terms of information to our members, we’re just getting started.

In Solidarity,

Your UFCW Local 401 Negotiating Team

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