On June 7th, and for the 5th year in a row, UFCW Local 401 participated in the Edmonton Pride Parade and celebration. While evolving in our efforts to engage Albertans and become a partner with community organizations, we have also watched the parade and festival in Edmonton grow by leaps and bounds every year. We are proud to be a part of that success. “When we march in the pride parades, we are telling our membership and the community at large that UFCW 401 is ‘on your side’, no matter where you are from or whom you love”, Local 401 President Douglas O’Halloran said. “We are also saying that we are a union that is serious not just about things like good wages, benefits and workplace health and safety, but also for dignity, respect and equality at work”, he concluded.
Community engagement is key for our union to assist in the larger picture affecting all Albertans in the fight for equality. The pride parade is only one of many actions that need to be taken to not only integrate our union into the community but to provide a resource to those who don’t have or are seeking a voice at work. 5% of the country’s population now self identify as belonging to or identifying with the queer community. That’s almost 2 million people across Canada who are not only active in community initiatives but who are also our members whom we work with and serve every single day.
UFCW is proud to be woven into the fabric of that society and are proud to be involved in Pride celebrations for years to come. Celebrating our pride every year is a great opportunity for our members, families and friends to have a great time for a great cause!
Please join us in Calgary on August 31st, 2014 as we once again march in the Calgary Pride Parade.
With 204 members attending the “2014 Building Our Future Together” Members’ Conference, the mood and excitement over the course of the 4 days was palpable. Members poured in to the Kananaskis Delta Lodge from all around the province on Wednesday, June 25th and began their exciting journey of education and solidarity building throughout.
Participants enjoyed many interesting speakers over the week and into the weekend. Alberta NDP MLA and party leadership contender, Rachel Notley, was on hand; as was federal NDP MP, Nikki Ashton. Among other things, both touched on the battles ahead and their vision for the Party’s direction and mandate to serve the interests of workers and society as a whole. Labour lawyer, Kara O’Halloran, also addressed the crowd on the pitfalls facing workers where social media is concerned. And International Secretary Treasurer, Marc Perrone, spoke about many things affecting workers today, and was generous in his praise of the great work that UFCW 401’s members, staff and elected officers are doing in the notoriously difficult political and labour relations climate in Alberta.
Members were hard at work every day in their classrooms and enjoyed a range of educational topics. Courses like: Grievance and Arbitration, WCB, Health and Safety, Finance, The Attack on Workers, Community Engagement/Making Change, Crossing Generational Lines, The 101 on 401: An Introduction to Your Union, and Together Fairness Works, all got members talking about the need to not only understand what needs to be done to build a strong union movement and membership base, but why it needs to be done. Participants learned throughout each course how the political landscape, which is grossly stacked against the interests of workers, is responsible for where we are. They learned that the current Conservative governments, both federally and provincially, do not represent the needs of ordinary Canadians, but rather those of corporate interests and the few ultra-rich. The attack on ordinary citizens; workers, children, elderly and retirees, and youth is stark and there were many “ah-ha” moments throughout.
Throughout the Conference, members reported a much-improved sense of belonging and renewed commitment to the labour movement as a whole, but mostly their own union. Some came in to the Conference referring to “the” union but left embracing the notion of “my” union. The overwhelming sense of belonging was indeed tangible.
We thank the participants for making the 2014 Members’ Conference a roaring success and we eagerly anticipate even more success at the next one.
Our UFCW 401 family was saddened to learn of the passing of long-term member Ken Hubbard on June 25th.
Ken started with the Canada Safeway in September of 1976. He worked in many different stores over the years and was a valued and respected addition to any store he was assigned. Ken became a Shop
Steward in 2002 and served his co-workers and the union well over the years. He was held in high esteem by the members he represented and all of the Union Reps he assisted.
Ken was well known as someone with a personal touch, always taking the time to make new employees feel welcome and always willing to be a confidante to anyone who was having a difficult time at work or outside of work. It was this kind of personal commitment to his coworkers and the larger community that made Ken such a wonderful person.
Farewell, Ken, you will be missed.
UFCW Local 401 regularly encourages its members to become active in the political process. We know that decisions made by politicians have substantial impacts on our lives as workers. So workers avoid participation in politics at our own peril.
Usually, our encouragement is in the form of attending different political events, volunteering for your local NDP riding association, or getting involved in an issue-based campaign that is important to you. But long-time UFCW Local 401 member Chris Nielsen has taken that encouragement one step further by becoming the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Decore for the next provincial election.
An active Party member and phenomenal representative of our union, Chris contributed to the success of the NDP in Edmonton and across the province in numerous ways before seeking the candidacy in Edmonton-Decore. On June 17, Chris officially became the NDP candidate for the 2016 election at a well-attended nomination meeting.
UFCW Local 401 couldn’t be happier for Brother Nielsen and we look forward to the positive impact his candidacy will have on politics in the province!
The last few months have been a busy time for negotiations amongst UFCW Local 401 members. Below are a few updates on negotiations:
On Saturday, June 14th some of our newest members out of Excel Society, who work at Balwin Villa and Grand Manor in Edmonton, voted 75% in favour of their first Union Contract (Collective Agreement). These new UFCW 401 members work as Health Care Aides and Licensed Practical Nurses, providing a variety of services to people with mental, physical, and developmental disabilities; people that have medical conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and brain injuries.
Since the employer is in the non-profit sector and depends significantly on provincial government funding, wage increases were modest. However, it’s important to note that prior to the involvement of a government mediator, the employer was offering zero wage increases. That position shifted in the late hours of negotiations.
Overall, the members can be very proud of what they’ve achieved. They were able to negotiate vast improvements to their job security and how they’re treated at work in this three-year Agreement.
On June 5, UFCW Local 401 members at McKesson reached a tentative agreement with McKesson Canada. The Agreement is a four-year deal with 3% wage increases in each year, along with retro and premium increases.
The members also achieved some positive changes in contract language that should resolve the ongoing issues they had been experiencing. Other contract gains include: vacation language change that will ensure members receive a payout each year of their unused vacation pay (as opposed to the Company keeping it until they either terminate or retire), better union access, improved bereavement leave, and full-time protection for weekly hours.
Members at Canada Safeway exchanged proposals with their employer on April 9 and since then have had two sets of negotiations consisting of 7 days in total. The next set of negotiation dates is July 14-18.
To this point, the Bargaining Committee has made positive progress in discussing and resolving language and non-monetary issues, which is traditionally how negotiations start. The Employer has been relatively easy to deal with and members have managed to get over 30 language and non-monetary issues resolved.
The members will be getting into more critical “quality of life” language and non–monetary issues such as scheduling of vacations, as well as transfers, employees in acting management positions, etc., shortly.
The union organized a telephone town hall meeting on June to answer questions on negotiations and to talk about upcoming union activities. The Bargaining Committee wants to remind all Safeway members that the more engaged they are, the stronger negotiations will be with the Employer. As such, Safeway members are encouraged to check http://gounion.ca regularly for updates and information about negotiations.
The Bargaining Committee for JBS members met with the Employer on June 17 and 18. A lot of progress was made in negotiations, with discussions lasting very late into the evening on both days in an attempt to achieve a fair and beneficial Agreement. However, the Committee ran out of time.
Unfortunately, members were not able to achieve a deal that encompassed a few outstanding “must have” issues that they’ve told the employer are required in order to present a recommended offer. The issues that remain outstanding are: the costs of benefits (members want the company to pay for 100% of that cost); total compensation on vacation pay; 5 minutes of unpaid break time to be paid for entirely; wage increases; double time on Sunday work; and a Walking Steward on A shift and B shift.
These are very important goals that still need to be achieved and the Bargaining Committee is prepared to fight for them. While the union is not afraid to assist JBS members in organizing a strong strike campaign if necessary, our goal is to do everything possible to achieve a fair settlement without having to go on strike.
The Bargaining Committee hopes to have a meeting around July 22. The meeting will be either a vote on an offer or a strike vote. There is still time to avert a strike at JBS as long as this company puts forward a reasonable offer for you to vote on.
JBS members are encouraged to check the union’s website regularly for updates.