Sobeys’ recent purchase of the Safeway banner means that the company will now negotiate with UFCW Local 401 in the process of taking over the current contracts for Safeway’s retail and liquor store locations. As this process has unfolded, UFCW Local 401 has been receiving a great deal of interest from workers at these stores who want to know about the benefits and protection a union contract can offer them at their workplace.
One such interested workplace was the Airdrie Sierra Springs Sobeys Liquor Store, the first Sobeys liquor store in the province of Alberta. On February 2, 2015, UFCW Local 401 made an application for certification at the location when members from the store contacted the union about implementing a fair union contract at their workplace.
Workers called the union’s confidential toll free number to get more information about how the process to join a union and get a union contract works. This initial contact resulted in a meeting between the workers and Local 401 Union Organizer Joe Irving. Some of the concerns brought to the union by workers at this meeting included: wages, benefits, scheduling, and a lack of association and communication between the management and employees.
“Employees have been slowly programmed to believe they are lucky to have a job with any organization and so should not bring attention to unfair practices or bad working conditions,” Irving said. “This is what our union is working to change, as I believe workers should be rewarded fairly for their hard work and dedication to the job. Employees like to know they are appreciated for showing up on time and doing everything they can for the business to succeed,” Irving said.
The Airdrie Sobeys liquor store employees have proven their determination to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to gain union representation at their workplace and will have their vote within approximately ten days. In this vote, members will express their legal right to join a union. After the vote, the negotiation process will begin with Sobeys wherein workers will have the full support and resources of UFCW Local 401 in gaining a fair union contract.
“As we negotiate Sobeys contracts, the union will look to win negotiated benefits for members achieved under the Safeway Liquor Store contracts, these include an equal wage scale, benefits after ten hours per week, an employer paid pension plan, as well as a process for progressive discipline,” UFCW Local 401 Negotiator Al Olinek said.
Ultimately, workers at the Sierra Springs location had the opportunity to look at other unionized locations and see the direct benefits bringing a union to their workplace could provide. They also saw and understood the collective bargaining power that comes with joining a union like Local 401. The union’s efforts at this store have resulted in an upswing of interest from members working at other liquor stores owned by Sobeys. These workers are now contacting Local 401 about the process of joining the union and getting a fair union contract. There are many other locations in the province that do not yet have a union contract and that will benefit from getting in contact with Local 401 to learn more about the Union Advantage, as the brave workers in Airdrie did.
To get in contact with a UFCW Local 401 Union Organizer, please call 1-877-GO-UNION. All calls are confidential.
Posted on: February 13,2015