After 98% strike vote, Sobeys Workers to Vote on New Contract

NEW WESTMINSTER, British Columbia, Oct. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Thousands of workers at Safeway and FreshCo Pharmacy will be voting on a historic new contract this week. If ratified, the agreement will add over 300 full-time jobs, benefit improvements and the highest wage increases in 25 years. 

The tentative agreement came after 98% of participating workers voted in favour of a strike in September. The record-high voter turnout showed Sobeys, the parent company that owns Safeway and FreshCo pharmacy, that workers were ready to fight for an agreement that addresses rising inflation and reflects their dedicated work through the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, the company was offering increases as low as less than 1% after nearly nine months of bargaining.

"These workers stood together and were united in their fight for a fair contract by delivering a strong strike vote," said UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak. "With the strong backing of our membership, the committee returned to the bargaining table and won unprecedented improvements with over 300 full-time jobs, the highest wage increases in 25 years, a faster wage scale progression and ending the employer's practice of freezing workers at minimum wage."

While wages were top of mind during contract negotiations, the tentative agreement also features many improvements to work-life balance for Sobeys employees, including increased access to vacation days, better control over scheduling, and a four-day workweek.

The union is looking forward to implementing the new agreement following a contract ratification vote that will run from Wednesday, October 18 to Friday, October 20.

UFCW Local 1518 represents more than 26,000 members working in the community health, hospitality, retail, grocery, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia.