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Significant gains for new members at Metro in Pembroke as they ratify their first collective agreement

March 26, 2020 at 10:12am

Earlier this week, retail grocery workers at Metro in Pembroke, Ontario, overwhelmingly ratified their first collective agreement. The 81 workers voted in November 2019, to gain the benefit of Union representation with UFCW Locals 175 & 633.

“These workers have seen the value that being a Union member gives them,” said UFCW Local 175 President Shawn Haggerty. “The immediate improvements to wages and benefits are meaningful, and we’re proud to welcome these Members to our Local Union and secure them a great first agreement.”

Both part-time and full-time employees benefit from substantial wage increases and benefit improvements negotiated by the Union in this four-year agreement.

Full-time start rates go up by three dollars per hour plus annual rate increases of between 25 cents and 50 cents per hour. In addition, full-time employees at the end rate receive two lump sums of $900 during the term of the agreement. Part-time employees will see immediate increases of between 10 cents and 70 cents per hour depending on their hours worked. The part-time wage grid has language to increase rates if and when the province announces any improvements to the minimum wage. Part-time employees at the end rate will receive a lump sum payment of $300 per year.

A new premium provides 70 cents per hour on top of an employee’s regular rate for night shift work. This amount increases over the life of the agreement to reach 95 cents per hour. In addition, a premium of $1 per hour for relieving managers or assistant managers will now apply to all employees. Negotiated language also guarantees that full-time jobs will comprise 40 per cent of the schedule going forward.

An extensive benefit package applies to both part-time and full-time employees for which employees will pay no premiums; the previous package provided minimal coverage and required employees to pay premiums.

A new dental plan will apply to both part-time and full-time employees as well. The employer will cover the cost of the dental plan premiums as well.

The agreement contains standard language that protects workers when they have a Union collective agreement. That language includes Just Cause protection and a legally binding grievance and arbitration procedure to resolve disputes. Other improvements include leave provisions, vacation entitlements and pay, and more.

“The safety and security of our members is our top priority, especially as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said President Haggerty. “Grocery retail workers are among the many heroes we have on the front line. Supporting those workers is more important than ever and we continue to push hard to ensure that all workers receive the protection and security they deserve.”