Safeway confirms August wage increase under union pressure…

However, uncertainties remain.

Your union has been pushing Safeway to confirm their intention to give top-rated and overscale employees the wage increase they are owed on August 11, 2024.

The increase was awarded to top-rated and overscale Safeway employees by Arbitrator Mia Norrie as an outcome of the Wage Ropener process your union engaged in on your behalf last summer.

Safeway finally got around to responding to our inquiry. 

At first, their answer was ambiguous, with officials indicating “the Company’s intent to implement the award pending the review of the decision.”

The “review” referenced here is Safeway’s decision to have Norrie’s award judicially reviewed. Judicial reviews are generally sought in order to have an arbitrator’s decision overturned. 

Your Union President, Thomas Hesse, and Secretary Treasurer, Richelle Stewart, were not satisfied with Safeway’s response.

Hesse and Stewart pressed Safeway to provide a firm answer on whether or not they would honour the award by Arbitrator Norrie and give top-rated and overscale employees the 5% wage increase they need and deserve on August 11, 2024.

“This is not a fulsome response,” wrote President Hesse. “But it appears to confirm that the Company will implement the August increase. Why can’t you say so directly if this is true?”

After this direct call for a straightforward reply, Company officials wrote back to say “the August 2024 increases will be implemented as per the Award.”

The increases in both 2023 and 2024 represent the largest increase that Safeway employees have seen in decades and are desperately needed in these economically challenging times. 

Your union leadership is unapologetic for our forceful advocacy on behalf of Safeway union members.

Further, we remain dissatisfied with Safeway’s continued refusal to implement increases for those employees who are not top-rated or overscale. At a time when more than half of Albertans are having challenges paying their monthly bills, it’s clear that absolutely everyone needs a raise.

It’s also clear that Safeway can afford to give everyone a raise as they enjoy ever-increasing profits. They’re simply choosing not to do so.

That choice comes in the face of an investigation recently launched by Canada’s Competition Bureau looking into alleged anti-competitive conduct by Sobeys.

Questions remain as to whether Safeway will attempt to claw this money back from employees should they be successful in overturning Arbitrator Norrie’s decision with their Judicial Review.

Safeway has made no firm commitments on this issue and it is unclear what the outcome of their litigation will be.

One thing Safeway union members can be sure of is that your union will continue pushing Safeway and every single employer we deal with to Stop the Squeeze and make life more affordable by giving you the wage increases you need and deserve.

Preparations for bargaining with Safeway next year are well underway and we’ll be ready to stand with our Safeway members as they push their employer to do the right thing.