Your Voice e-newsletter v14.106

2014 Members' Conference: Building Our Future Together

2014 Building Our Future Together - Members' Conference logo

On June 25-29, 2014, UFCW Local 401 will be holding a Members’ Conference in beautiful Kananaskis and we want you to be there!

Every four years, the union aims to hold a conference at which its members can come together to connect with one another and discuss the future of our union. This is a vital opportunity for us to engage one another on the issues we’re facing in our workplaces and our lives and grow stronger as a movement.

The theme of this year’s Conference is Building Our Future Together.

In a country marked by record high household debt and stagnating wages, the goal of shared prosperity that we champion as unions is more important than ever. For years, conservatives have attacked our movement and told us that individual gain is the only way forward. And yet, for all their arguments, most Albertans and Canadians are further behind and working harder just to make ends meet.

The Conservative mantra of looking out for number one has been proven bankrupt. We need a sensible and sustainable way forward that will re-build the middle class with good jobs and a better future for everyone.

Discussing how we as union activists can contribute to creating that future is a major focus of this year’s Conference.

However, as important as discussion and dialogue are, we all know that actions speak louder than words. And so during the Conference, we’ll also spend time developing our skills to take concrete actions towards building our brighter future.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about WCB, taking control of your finances, fighting back against the conservative attack on workers, or getting an introduction to your union, the 2014 Members’ Conference has a course for you.

We hope to see lots of faces, both new and old, out for this exciting event. If you would like to register for the Conference, all you need to do is send us a letter or email outlining your top three course preferences.

Emails can be sent to and letters can be sent to:

UFCW Local 401
c/o Bobbie Menzak
3305 18 Avenue N.
Lethbridge, Alberta
T1H 5S1

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Conference!

- Theresa McLaren

Fighting Favouritism In Your Workplace

Hand puppets

M name is V. (Zig) Zigart and I have been a full time Union Representative for almost 12 years. I originally came out of the Safeway Edmonton Distribution Center where I worked for more than 22 years in the trucking department.

In this article, I would like to pass on some information on nepotism and favouritism. Nepotism is when your management hires their family and favoritism is exactly what it sounds like: when your supervisors give their friends preferential treatment.

There are two ways you can be affected by nepotism and favouritism in your workplace. The first way is when a person is hired, put into a management role and, becomes your boss even though they do not have the knowledge, skill, or ability to do the job. Unfortunately, in this case there is nothing the union can do. In all contracts, management retains the right to promote anyone they choose into management positions, regardless of that person’s lack of ability.

The second way you can be affected is when a person is hired into the unionized work force. In this case, management (and the person they’ve hired) must follow the Union Contract that is in place. It is also up to you, as union members, to avail yourself of your rights under the contract.

All union contracts have rules that govern seniority, job positions, shifts, start times, days of work etc. and management is required to follow these rules. If management chooses to ignore the rules laid out in the Union Contract in favour of decisions based on nepotism and/or favouritism, grievances may be filed to protect your rights.

Every Union Representative has had to deal with these issues repeatedly. If you feel this is going on in your work place you should contact your Union Representative and file a grievance. Do not let management take money out of your pocket by allowing them to give your hours/pay to other people based solely on the other person being a friend or relative.

If you have any other questions you should contact your Union Representative.

- Zig Zigart

WCB Advocacy: A Union Service For Your Peace of Mind

A Union Service For Your Peace of Mind

Some of you may know that one of our WCB Advocates, Rick Vermette, retired a few months ago. Since then I have been given the opportunity to work with those of you who require assistance with your WCB claims.

I have been working for Local 401 for over 10 years and I look forward to working with you as your WCB Advocate for northern Alberta. Prior to Rick retiring I had the privilege of training with him for a few months. I also work closely with Loren Keister, your WCB Advocate for southern Alberta.

There’s a lot to know about WCB but most important for you to know is what we refer to as, “best practice” when applying for WCB coverage. There are a few simple things you must always remember when dealing with an injury or illness at the workplace:

  1. Report your injury to your employer as soon as you can after an accident, whether you think you’re going to miss time at work or not. And equally important; request a copy of that report. A delay in reporting may mean a denial of your claim. Though you have up to 2 years to file a claim, your chances of it being accepted are greatly improved by applying as soon as possible after the incident leading to the injury or illness.
  2. Tell a Steward and list all witnesses on your report.
  3. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you cannot see your family doctor immediately or you don’t have a family doctor, you must go to a walk-in clinic or emergency room. A follow-up with your family doctor is necessary. Have your first attending doctor fill out the WCB doctor’s report. WCB will not pay benefits until you have been seen by a doctor. That means if you have missed time because of your injury, they won’t pay you until you’ve been seen and diagnosed by a doctor. You must tell the treating medical practitioner that it is work related and explain the job duties performed. Whether it’s a walk-in clinic, the Emergency Room or your own family doctor, the first doctor you see must be told it’s a workplace injury or illness and they must fill out the WCB doctor’s report form.
  4. File your WCB workers’ report as soon as possible; this bears repeating. Also, KEEP COPIES OF ALL DOCUMENTATION! Maintain your own file of all documents relating to your claim. This includes doctor’s notes, copies of forms and any correspondence from the WCB, the employer or any other involved parties.

Lastly, if you need help or have any questions please call your Union Representative or myself, Nathalie Doerth if you are in northern Alberta, and Loren Keister if you are in southern Alberta.

Though we obviously never want to see our members get injured or become ill on the job, the reality is that it happens and we are always there to do all we can for you should you require our assistance with your claim.

- Nathalie Doerth

Bargaining Updates - Victories at ADM and CSPD!

The very foundation of our union is the idea that workers are stronger together. When we work collectively — whether it is to fight for high-quality jobs, address health and safety concerns in our workplaces, or demand the dignity and respect we deserve at work — we are far more effective than we would be trying to influence those issue on our own.

Nowhere is that more true than at the bargaining table when we are negotiating with employers over contracts. Time and time again, we see members win victories that genuinely improve their quality of life when they bargain strong together.

Recently, we concluded negotiations on two contracts where the value of that mantra held true.

Members at ADM Milling accepted an offer from the employer by 80%. Their contract is a three-year deal that includes a lump sum increase to five classifications and an additional 2.5% increase to wages in each of the three years.

The second negotiations involved members at CSPD, who accepted a three-year offer from the employer by an overwhelming 100%! Working with their union, members had re-written their Union Contract just a year ago, so there were not many issues to address during negotiations. However, by sticking together and bargaining with the employer collectively, the members were able to secure a 9% lump sum payment up front.

We’re always happy to celebrate the victories of our members and take real pride in working with them to achieve those wins. Congratulations to members at ADM and CSPD for their work during negotiations and the improvements they were able to realize through that work!

- Al Olinek