Your Voice e-newsletter v14.112

We Won't Get Fooled Again - Alison Redford and Conservative Entitlement

Every Albertan has probably heard someone say that if you don’t like the weather you need wait only five minutes for it to change. Over the last few months, a new provincial saying has emerged: if you’re bored with Alberta politics you need wait only five minutes for the next Redford story to come out.

Handwringing over the endless barrage of Alison Redford’s scandals has practically become a sport in Alberta politics. Each of these stories is met with the predictable frothing at the mouth and reddening of the face. This past week, even leadership frontrunner Jim Prentice got in on the action, issuing a stern condemnation of Redford’s sins.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Alison Redford’s various fiascos aren’t cause for complaint.

But what the pundits would have you believe is that all of this has to do with Alison Redford when, in fact, it has little to do with the former Premier. Or, at least, it has little to do with Redford specifically.


- Doug O'Halloran

Big Win for G4S Security Guards

Man writing the word

UFCW Local 401 began organizing security guards in northern Alberta because of their significant need for proper union representation. Security guards were experiencing challenging issues related to fair pay, reasonable benefits, and being treated with dignity and respect in their workplaces.

When G4S Security became the sole security contract for all PTI camps, we knew the time was right to provide G4S guards with the representation they needed to get the contract they deserved.

President Doug O’Halloran insists that any workers at camps in which the union is active be well represented. And so with our other members at PTI camps benefiting from a strong Union Contract, we went about ensuring we could provide the same opportunities to G4S security guards.

Our campaign was short and decisive. G4S guards already knew the importance of joining a strong union and were keen to have UFCW Local 401 represent their best interests.

The results from last week’s vote told the tale – G4S guards overwhelmingly supported joining the union with 98 votes in favour and only 3 opposed. Additionally, UFCW Local 401 won the right to represent supervisors, who were also in need of proper union representation.

Now we can turn our attention to the real business of negotiating G4S guards’ first Union Contract and ensuring they get the benefits that they deserve. The union will meet with the Company to begin negotiating and to discuss ongoing issues in the workplace.

We know that our newest members at G4S are excited and UFCW local 401 is equally excited at the opportunity to represent them. Together, we will make a difference at G4S Security!

- Chris O'Halloran

Applications Open for Robert McWilliams Scholarships

Robert McWilliams was a Business Agent at UFCW Local 401 for a significant number of years. A committed activist, Robert is known to have aggressively defended workers rights throughout his life. Robert became especially well known for his role in ensuring that Superstore employees were treated fairly when the Company was becoming newly established in Alberta.

Robert worked with young union members who were university and college students and believed strongly in protecting the rights of part-timers.

Unfortunately in 1989, Robert died suddenly in a tragic traffic accident in downtown Edmonton. It is on Robert’s behalf that this scholarship was created in his memory.

About Robert McWilliams Scholarship

Applications must be received by September 30, 2014.

- UFCW Local 401 Staff

Bargaining Updates - JBS Lakeside and Aramark-Nexen Logn Lake

JBS Lakeside

Negotiations between the union’s JBS members and JBS Lakeside had been diffifult and tense almost from the beginning. While progress had been made, the Comapny remained unwilling to move on some deal breakers for the members. As a result, in mid-June the members’ Bargaining Committee instructed the Employer to come to the table with a willingness to negotiate in good faith on the outstanding issues or face a strike vote.

In an effort to reach a settlement with the Employer, the Bargaining Committee negotiated with JBS on July 22, reaching a tentative offer for members to consider. On July 28, JBS members had their say and voted 97% in favour of accepting the offier.

Some highlights of the accepted offer include:

  • A signing bonus for all employees based on years of service;
  • A lump sum signing bonus for all employees upon ratification of this offer;
  • Wage increases in each of the last 3 years of contract for all employees;
  • Vacation pay based on total earnings from the previous year;
  • 100% of benefits to be paid for by the company after a 3-month eligibility requirement;
  • No more ridiculously early or late breaks;
  • Wage increases for maintenance employees to be added into the scales;
  • As long as members work all their scheduled hours for the week, their Saturday shift is paid at overtime rate;
  • Improvements to bereavement leave – addition of paid leave for a memorial service up to 12 hours/day;
  • Overtime is given to the most senior employee in the department first;
  • A union office right in the plant to better assist the members;
  • The addition of 2 dedicated onsite Walking Stewards to deal with workplace concerns even more quickly;
  • Increase to $8.00 for the current meal allowance;
  • Payment of the higher rate of pay for shifts that cross over two calendar days for more than 2 hours;
  • Payment of the higher rate of pay if members work more than 2 hours in a job that pays more.

Aramark-Nexen Long Lake

Members at Aramark-Nexen Logn Lake were formerly under a CLAC agreement, but left to join a real union with UFCW Local 401. On July 23, after taking a strong strike vote (90%) and choosing to join the National Defense Fund, Aramark-Nexen members had their first opportunity to vote on a legitimate Union Contract and accepted the proposed contract by 97%.

Our Aramark-Nexen members were able to achieve all the normal strong collective agreement language for which the union always strives in its contracts. The members also receive improvements to show up time, coffee breaks, and bereavement leave. The members’ willingness to bargain strong together also enabled them to obtain:

  • time and half for all work on Saturday,
  • increased vacation pay to 4 weeks after 8 years,
  • 100% payment by the Company into the health and welfare benefit (previous they paid 50%),
  • a first time retirement plan of 1% matching employer contributions,
  • a first time travel allowance of $250 per month,in the first year, $275 in second and $300 in third year.

Finally, the members received a 2% wage increase in the first year, 3% in the second and third years.

We’re proud of the work in whch our members at JBS Lakeside and Aramark Nexen Long Lake engaged to achieve these substantial gains and the work of UFCW Local 401 Union Representatives in helping the members secure their victories!

- Dennis Forsey and Bryan Neath