Fighting for those hit hardest by the affordability crisis

We’re all having challenges making ends meet right now.

Whether it is rent, groceries, gas, or utilities, paying your bills has never been harder. Sadly, workers who are the most precarious tend to feel the pinch the most profoundly when it comes to the cost of living.

Not only can seasonal jobs be uncertain, but they’re very often in places where the cost of living is already wildly out of control.

Recently, President Thomas Hesse stopped into the Banff IGA to connect with workers who are scrambling under inflation and another employer who hasn’t recognized their overwhelming contributions.

President Thomas Hesse with Banff IGA union member Valerie.

Union members like Valerie were happy to see President Hesse and discuss the difficulties associated with working in a tourism-driven city like Banff while hearing about how their union is fighting for them in this explosive inflationary environment.

“At every bargaining table, in every grievance, with employers and arbitrators, and everywhere our voice can be heard, your union is pushing to place workers’ needs first in these extraordinarily expensive times,” said President Hesse.

Marmot Basin, Jasper, Alberta.

On the other side of the mountains in Jasper, we’re trying to help a different set of struggling workers. Ski Hill staff at Marmot Basin decided it was time to reset their relationship with their employer by exploring joining UFCW Local 401.

Choosing from among several unions after feeling ignored by their employer, the staff at Marmot Basin decided to go with Local 401 because they were most impressed with our fighting union.

“We represent a lot of hospitality workers, but this would be our first foray into the ski industry,” said Executive Director Chris O’Halloran. 

Despite some challenges with the process, your union is confident that Marmot Basin ski staff will stay the course and have the opportunity to right the wrongs they currently face with their union of choice by their side.

Keywords Studios workers with President Thomas Hesse, Treasurer Richelle Stewart, and Northern Director Linda Mariani.

UFCW Local 401 has never been afraid to break new ground when organizing for workers’ rights. Last year, our union became the first in Canada to represent gaming industry workers at Keywords Studios. 

We are currently supporting those members as they push their employer for a fair first contract with unique, digitally-focused strike action.

Union members attend health and safety training with the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre and hear from President Hesse about putting safety first.

Finally, President Hesse had the chance to visit with a long-time Canmore member who had requested a chance to connect with his union’s President.

Jared Matsunaga-Turnbull from the Alberta Workers’ Health Centre set up shop in Local 401’s Calgary Office to provide invaluable occupational health and safety training to our members.

Richard, from the Canmore Safeway store, participated in that training and was happy to have the opportunity to talk with President Hesse.

Hesse and Richard discussed the Safeway Wage Reopener, as well as the health and safety challenges of working in retail environments in places like Canmore where prices are already inflated due to the destination status of the city.

President Hesse is constantly criss-crossing the province advocating for our members’ best interests.

Those challenges are only getting more pronounced with the holidays fast approaching.

For many, this time of year can be exceedingly difficult. With patience running short, those on whom we rely most during the holiday season too often wind up getting the short end of the stick from supervisors and customers alike. 

As the Christmas crunch intensifies, remember that your union is here to support you if you are experiencing difficulties at either work or home.

By standing together as one strong union, we can ensure everyone makes it through this affordability crisis and is ready to fight for the fair wages they deserve in the New Year.