Grocery workers at Save-On-Foods stores have ratified a new contract that brings “substantial” wage increases, lump-sum payments and improvements in working conditions, says the union representing them.
UFCW 1518 members at the Save-On-Foods chain across the province voted to ratify the new deal, which went into effect on Sunday.
The wage increases will put newly hired Save-On-Foods workers ahead of the province’s minimum wage, with starting rates beginning in June at $16.20 per hour, up by $1.50. Starters were previously making $14.70 per hour, just above minimum wage in B.C., which is currently $14.60 per hour, and is set to rise to $15.20 on June 1.
“Our members have told us that these wage increases are life-changing,” said UFCW 1518 president Kim Novak. “With this new contract, Save-On-Foods members are helping to set a new standard for the grocery industry in British Columbia with up to 15% wage increases for thousands of workers.” The increases are permanent, not temporary bonuses tied to the pandemic.
Union members already making top rate at Save-On-Foods will receive lump-sum payments of as much as $2,750 by April and will receive a wage increase next year before the contract expires in 2023.
The union negotiated improvements to staff mobility between stores, more vacation entitlement for long-term members, birth-control coverage for staff and eligible dependents, and increased job security.
The union’s bargaining committee was made up of members from stores across the province and senior UFCW 1518 negotiators. Union members submitted more than 3,500 bargaining proposals through an online portal and engaged through regular town-hall check-ins during the negotiations.
“The members really drove this agreement,” said bargaining committee member Erica Jones. “We consistently heard that broad wage increases for the lowest-paid Save-On-Foods members were the top priority, so that is what we fought for at the bargaining table.”