Hello from Hinton… and let’s talk about the CPP!

President Thomas Hesse and Secretary Treasurer Richelle Stewart connect with Safeway members in Hinton about the global affordability crisis, Wage Reopener updates, and CPP. Thank you to Shop Stewards Blaine and Linda for leading a tour around the store!

Did you know that UFCW Local 401 is the largest private-sector union in Western Canada, Friend?

It’s true! We have more than 32,000 members at over 300 workplaces across the province. Working to advocate for those members are more than 70 full-time staff members, over 20 Walking Stewards in both retail grocery workplaces and food processing plants, and approximately 500 Shop Stewards throughout Alberta.

At any given time, we may be working on more than 1,000 grievances, pursuing multiple arbitrations, legal actions, and negotiating any number of collective agreements.

In fact, in 2022 we won:

  • More than $19 million for our members through negotiations
  • Almost $225,000 for our members through grievances 
  • More than $100,000 for our members through arbitrations 
  • More than $450,000 for our members in WCB claims

These numbers don’t even include the broad range of endless advice and counsel that we give to our members everyday to protect them from unfair and arbitrary employer decisions and to ensure they receive their benefits, workplace rights, and proper compensation.

Needless to say, there is always a lot going on at our local union! But President Thomas Hesse and Secretary Treasurer Richelle Stewart like to take time to connect with our union members face-to-face even though they have a very limited ability to do so.

Recently, Hesse and Stewart had the chance to visit the Safeway store in Hinton.


President Hesse and Secretary Treasurer Stewart with Hinton Safeway Deli member Abdel Afquir.

It’s hard for President Hesse and Treasurer Stewart to get to every corner of the province as often as they would like. But when they find themselves close to workplaces that are a little further out, like Hinton, both Thomas and Richelle like to make a point of arranging a visit to connect with the members in that workplace.

Safeway members in Hinton were eager to talk about the global affordability crisis facing everyone, updates about the Safeway Wage Reopener process, and labour relations in the store. Some members also expressed concern over the idea of Alberta pulling out of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

“It comes as no surprise that our Safeway members in Hinton are concerned about the cost of things like gas, rent, groceries, and utilities,” said President Hesse. “Workers the world over are struggling with this affordability crisis. What we do want our members to know is that their union continues to push employers to do the right thing and pay their workers fairly.”

“Whether that is through the Wage Reopener process, contract negotiations, or the very public voice we have been about the challenges workers face as companies continue making massive profits, we won’t stop fighting until our members get fair deals,” added Secretary Treasurer Richelle Stewart.

It was also not surprising to hear a few members express fears about pulling out of the CPP given what a hot topic that is in Alberta lately.

Many of our members have been paying into the CPP for years and worry about what a move to leave the program will mean for their future financial security. Let’s face it, no one needs further financial worries right now.

The Alberta Federation of Labour will be launching a campaign to talk about this issue and what it might mean for working Albertans in the coming weeks.

Click here to read a recent blog post about the issue of pension security and the CPP from the AFL.

We will keep you posted on that issue and our continued fight for fairness during a global affordability crisis.