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Manitoba Safeway workers ratify new five-year bargaining agreement

UFCW Local 832, which represents 1,700 Safeway workers in six Manitoba communities, says the new contract makes them the highest-paid unionized retail workers in the province.
The Safeway store in Thompson
The union that represents Manitoba Safeway workers announced April 1 that its members have ratified a five-year collective bargaining agreement with the company.

1,700 Safeway workers at Manitoba stores in Thompson, Winnipeg, Brandon, Dauphin, Selkirk and Neepawa have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a five-year collective bargaining agreement that makes them the highest-paid unionized retail workers in the province, the union that represents them says.

The new agreement includes wage increases, funding for the union members’ benefit plans and mechanisms for cashiers to address concerns about scheduling, as well as the right to refuse the use of a customer’s unsanitary reusable grocery bag without facing discipline from management, UFCW Local 832 said in a press release.

“Our bargaining team worked extremely hard to represent the concerns of the 1,700 Safeway workers across Manitoba,” said Jeff Traeger, union president and lead negotiator. “While we still strongly believe that they deserve more after working on the front line for the past two years, this new agreement includes wage and benefit improvements that are above-and-beyond in comparison to other unionized retail grocery workers.”

During the course of bargaining talks, the union and Sobey’s Capital Incorporated, which owns the Safeway chain, agreed to move Manitoba’s six FreshCo stores, also owned by Sobey’s, into their own bargaining unit so their employees’ concerns can be addressed without being overshadowed by the larger number of union members who work at Safeway.

The union credits a 98 per cent vote in favour of a strike mandate with giving it the leverage it needed to secure financial improvements that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

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