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  • authored by weiser
  • published Wed, Apr 17, 2002

Alberta Superstores

Here's some stats on Alberta Superstores:
Canada Safeway has 10,000 employees and its contract expired on 16-Mar-01 (13 months ago) but they still don't have a new contract.

Real Canadian Superstore has 2,900 employees and its contract expired on 12-Aug-00 (20 months ago) and they still don't have a new contract.

Here's more information. When you look at the average wage increase in Alberta, it will be interesting to see how large of an increase UFCW Local 401 can get for its retail members. It's also interesting to see the length of the average CA in Alberta. I see only one at 5 years. I wonder who signed that one?

I wonder if they can outdo Saskatchewan. If they do, they will make Mike Fraser look pretty inept, if they don't they will make themselves look inept.

Let's wait an see. The Edmonton Superstores gave a large strike vote a couple of weeks ago, will the UFCW have the courgage to serve notice?
Alberta Labour Statistics

  • posted by Troll
  • Wed, Apr 17, 2002 8:36pm

The annual report is due soon, but in the meantime, this is the last quarterly report for Westfair. The guys are rolling in dough, but Mike Fraser couldn't get them to part with much. I wonder how the Alberta boys will do. Westfair reports a pretty rosy future for itself:

quote:


REPORT TO SHAREHOLDERS
Sales increased by 12.6% to $1.8 billion for the third quarter ended October 6, 2001. Same-store sales for the quarter increased by 6% including the effects of some food price inflation, which eased considerably in the latter half of the quarter. Sales growth for the third quarter was consistent with the results for the year-to-date.

During the third quarter of 2001, 8 new corporate stores were opened (2000 1 store). For the first three quarters of 2001, a total of 10 new corporate stores were opened (2000 3 stores), resulting in a 4.3% increase in net square footage.

Operating income for the quarter increased $4 million or 5% to $74 million; and operating margin decreased from 4.3% in 2000 to 4.1%. Operating income for the year-to-date has now increased $23 million or 14% with an operating margin of 4.4% as compared to 4.3% in 2000. These year-to-date margin improvements resulted from a combination of better mix management and cost control.

Increases in short term borrowing resulted in short term interest expense of $1.6 million in the quarter compared to short term interest income of $8.1 million in 2000; and the year-to-date interest expense of $5.4 million compared to short term interest income of $12.0 million in 2000.

The effective income tax rate for the quarter and on a year-to-date basis decreased as compared to the prior year in line with statutory rate reductions to approximately 42%.

Third quarter 2001 net earnings decreased 1.7% from last year to $42.6 million. Trailing year net earnings improved 12% to $169 million versus the $151 million earned during the comparable period at the end of the third quarter of 2000.

Capital investment of $29.9 million during the quarter and $53.9 million for the year-to-date reflects the Company's continuing commitment to maintain and renew its asset base and invest for growth. The 2001 estimated capital investment remains at approximately $70 million. Operating cash flow for the quarter of $41.5 million is consistent with the comparable period of 2000.

Effective January 2, 2000, the Company adopted, retroactively without restatement, the new Canadian standards for 'Income Taxes' and 'Employee Future Benefits'. The combined effect of the initial adoption was a decrease in retained earnings of $11 million.

Outlook
The sales and earnings growth trends experienced year-to-date are expected to continue into the last quarter of 2001 and into 2002.


  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 8:04am

In relation to the Saskatchewan Superstore strike and the Alberta "bargaining," there were some comments about the union increasing its membership through bargaining. Here's a '99 Human Rights case concerning disabled workers who got screwed by a Safeway/UFCW buy out program:

quote:


The evidence is that the Union did not consider all reasonable ways of accommodating the group. There was no consideration of the reduction of the pay-out amounts, the reduction of the wage amount, and the use of additional revenue coming to the Union because of the increased weekly dues and the initiation fee which resulted from growth in the membership because of the Buyout.


Here's the full decision. Most of the interesting part is in the panel's comments nearer the bottom. It talks about sacrificing small numbers for the larger numbers.

The fact that the union can actually make money by going two-tier is appalling. In the Saskatchewan strike thread, "Walking the Walk" was quite indignant that anyone would even suggest that the union could benefit in any way from an agreement is quite amusing when you think about it.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 8:35am

quote:


1) Buyout - The objective is to allow the Company to restructure its labour costs in the Manitoba store. The intent is to minimize the impact on existing employees and instead to affect replacement employees hired after ratification.


What about a machine that puts its signature on a clause that locks disregard for future members in perpetuity while guaranteeing the dues keep pouring in?

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 9:07am

quote:


1) Buyout - The objective is to allow the Company to restructure its labour costs in the Manitoba store. The intent is to minimize the impact on existing employees and instead to affect replacement employees hired after ratification.


Exactly how stupid do the bozos think we are?

This type of clause isn't some new invention. There are lots like it. We all know what happens to those left behind. They become a major liability. That's why senior full-time employees would up on graveyard shift in BC. Why pay someone $22 an hour when you can get three people to do the job for $8 an hour?

The company gets the work done for $320 per week rather than $880 (a savings of $560 per week) and the union just about triples its dues revenue. Not only that, but the company gets to hire three people who can't afford to stick around because their hours are too low to live off. That works well because they continually quit and are replaced by $8 an hour workers.

Hey, everyone wins! The union and the employer.

I wonder how tuned in the arbitrator was? If he agrees to that clause, the system should be scrapped because there just ain't no hope for anyone 'cept the machine and the employer.

  • posted by weiser
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 6:42pm

Give credit where credit is due: UFCW 401 Internet Site. Hey, it looks good.

The strike pay is quite decent by UFCW standards too. It's almost double Local 1518's

The position Local 401 has taken is fair. They sould be going for parity with Safeway and then some.

Let's see what happens. They've been forced to "talk the talk" like never before. Do they have what it takes to lead a major revolt? Time will tell.

Keep in mind that Local 401 is largely responsible for the Superstore abomination that exists today. The BC Superstore agreement was a carbon copy of the Alberta deal. The fact that Mike Fraser is going to yap at the Westfair boss isn't all that promising when you consider that he did the Saskatchewan deal.

quote:


The Canadian Director of the UFCW has convened a special bargaining session this week with your local Union; its negotiating committee; a senior Loblaws official from Toronto; and David Jeffs, the new president of Westfair Foods. Will it result in a new, fair Union contract? We will know soon.


Oh sure, Westfair is going to outdo themselves and give a much superior contract than the one they gave Saskatchewan.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 8:38pm

quote:


BASIC STRIKE BENEFITS
5 hour picketing shifts will be normal requirement.
$30 tax free for every five hour picketing shift completed.
Benefit commences first day of the strike.
You do not have to refund the Union.
No dues deducted.
Part time employees can normally receive up to 5 shifts per week ($150.00 tax free).
Full time employees can normally receive up to 7 shifts per week ($210.00 tax free).
Additional $25.00 per week per dependent if you picket 5 shifts. (tax free)
Child care: Union will try to develop child care co-ops.
Prescriptions: If strike is in excess of two weeks, Union will cover cost of necessary prescriptions for those who currently have coverage with Superstore.
Alberta Health Care: Union will pay premiums as necessary for all who are currently covered with Superstore.
Dental Coverage: If currently covered, 3 months of additional coverage.
Hardship Cases: A hardship committee will be formed to deal with cases of individuals having economic difficulty.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CROSS TO SURVIVE - CALL US FIRST!!!


My oh my! UFCW 1518 members are going to want to see these!

Maybe someone from Local 401 could explain why UFCW 401's strike fund is ample.

Maybe someone can explain why UFCW 1518 members will get a piddly $80 a wk for the inevitable dispute the machine is preparing us for in 2003?

  • posted by Know - it -all
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 11:17pm

Kudos to ufcw#401.Their website for communicating the negotiations is great.In the old days union leaders believed members should be kept dumb and in the dark.Nothing could be worse. By publishing the employers stupidity(their positions),members and others get a firsthand look at how little they care about the workers.The future of the labor movement is directly connected to how much the leadership is willing to empower the membership.If we've learned nothing else in the past thirty years, the union is nothing without a loud, involved and informed membership.Keep the information coming 401,you're on the right track.

  • posted by siggy
  • Sat, Apr 20, 2002 11:49pm

ufcw 401 appears to being doing everything right.

And then:

quote:


The Canadian Director of the UFCW has convened a special bargaining session this week with your local Union; its negotiating committee; a senior Loblaws official from Toronto; and David Jeffs, the new president of Westfair Foods. Will it result in a new, fair Union contract? We will know soon.


Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta. I guess we will know soon!

  • posted by weiser
  • Sun, Apr 21, 2002 7:54am

quote:


posted by siggy:
ufcw 401 appears to being doing everything right.

And then:

quote:


The Canadian Director of the UFCW has convened a special bargaining session this week with your local Union; its negotiating committee; a senior Loblaws official from Toronto; and David Jeffs, the new president of Westfair Foods. Will it result in a new, fair Union contract? We will know soon.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta. I guess we will know soon!


Will this meeting be impromptu? Are there guarantees that the "special bargaining session" will not be preceded by an even more special session with "a senior Loblaws official from Toronto; and David Jeffs, the new president of Westfair Foods?"

"Will it result in a new, fair Union contract?" What a stupid question. Any contract will be "new." Fair is so subjective. They should have said:

"The session will produce a strong, enforceable contract, and will result in the dismantling of any lower tiers in the contract. It will produce a contract with strong seniority language that creates full-time jobs with livable wages and benefits. It will produce a contract that demands respect and fair treatment for all UFCW members and language that provides severe penalties for any Westfair manager or supervisor who does not act respectfully toward all UFCW members.

"If, Westfair does not agree to the creation of such a strong, enforceable contract, the UFCW will see to it that Westfair Foods does not do business in the Province of Alberta until it agrees to our members' demands. If Westfair does not agree, we will move on to BC and close them down in that province as well when their contract expires."

Now the only questions are, "does Mike have the courage to say stuff like that, and does he have the guts to carry it out?"

If Saskatchewan is any indicator.....

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, Apr 21, 2002 8:34am

UFCW confuses me.

The machine has the right idea, the national getting on board, there should be national resources available, monetary and otherwise, during local negotiations.
But just when you think a local is about to score, someone drops the ball.

Why do big dollar local execs keep passing the ball to mikey?

  • posted by weiser
  • Tue, Apr 23, 2002 1:25pm

Let's see how many years this one is for:

quote:


Superstore staff to vote on tentative agreement

Suntanu Dalal, Journal Staff Writer
Edmonton Journal

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

The union representing Superstore workers has reached a tentative agreement with the grocery store chain.

Tom Hesse, negotiator for Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said the union will not reveal details of the provincewide agreement reached Friday until it goes for a ratification vote to its Edmonton members Wednesday. He said it will take about eight days for the ratification process to go around the province.

"I can confirm there is a tentative agreement and we're recommending it," he said.

"It represents a substantial improvement from the employer's offer before the strike vote."

In March, Superstore workers in the Edmonton region had voted 76 per cent in favour of a strike, but the results were quashed last week by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

"Certainly a number of our members are saying that there is victory in a lot of areas," said Hesse.

The union had been asking for an extra $2 an hour over two years and workplace improvements, including a clause in the contract requiring management to treat workers with dignity.

Dave Ryzebol, a Superstore spokesman, confirmed that a tentative agreement was reached.


  • posted by globalize_this
  • Tue, Apr 23, 2002 2:20pm

quote:


Tom Hesse, negotiator for Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, said the union will not reveal details of the provincewide agreement reached Friday until it goes for a ratification vote to its Edmonton members Wednesday. He said it will take about eight days for the ratification process to go around the province.

"I can confirm there is a tentative agreement and we're recommending it," he said.

"It represents a substantial improvement from the employer's offer before the strike vote."


This really bothers me. If the union has signed such a great deal, why can't they tell the members about it now? It's not that hard to post it on their website. Let the members think about the contract, and talk it over with their families, before they sign onto something that's going to last the next six years or more.

Of course, if Local 401 were to post the deal on the website, they would open it up to criticism from wags like us.

But surely if the agreement is really "a substantial improvement from the employer's offer before the strike vote," the people who signed it can defend it as such?! The members aren't stupid. I am sure they are capable of hearing different opinions on a subject and still deciding for themselves what is best for them.

quote:


In March, Superstore workers in the Edmonton region had voted 76 per cent in favour of a strike, but the results were quashed last week by the Alberta Labour Relations Board.


  • posted by HJFinnamore
  • Tue, Apr 23, 2002 2:41pm

Tom Hesse was the guy who sold the first Local 777 contract in Kelowna. It was my job to sell it, but I was having a bit of trouble keeping positive spin the piece of shit. Tom pushed me aside and said, "It's a Fabulous deal!" He sold it beautifully.

We didn't allow copies of the 'deal' out of our control. The best we did was to show the contract on an overhead projector. Because nobody had a copy, we were able to change it without anyone knowing different.

That fabulous deal was so crappy that we had to hightail it to Seattle to rework it, so it could be sold to the Metrotown Superstore employees. The four-year deal that Hesse called fabulous had rates for only one year. The rest would be filled in as Safeway did their deals. That way, whatever Safeway did, the Superstore deal would always have an advantage. That's the same deal that Whitlock signed the "secret deal" that added an additional four year to the contract. He secretly turned it into an eight-year contract.

I'm sure the Alberta Superstore deal is fabulous in that, 'It represents a substantial improvement from the employer's offer before the strike vote.' However, I can't see the deal being substantially better than the Saskatchewan deal. Maybe that's why it has to be secret. We wouldn't want anybody making comparisons, now would we?

The Local 401 site said that Mikey was coming to town to bargain with a Toronto Loblaws guy and the newbie Westfair prez. Now wouldn't you expect the same deal from the same guys?

Now the big question is, 'Did Westfair get a good deal so that they could establish themselves in the marketplace, or did the UFCW bring them in line with Safeway?'

  • posted by news
  • Sun, Apr 28, 2002 7:33am

The UFCW is well into selling the Alberta Superstore deal.

They brag that the "employer's right to pressure" employees to come in when they are sick has been limited. Why not eradicated? Is this better than the Saskatchewan language?

They say that employees in "some classifications" will get almost double what they were originally offered. Well wait and see if that means they were offered a penny and now they get two.

The big problem is that they still are not at parity with Safeway. Until they get parity, Safeway will continue to beat concessions out of its employees.

Where are these guys heads at?

  • posted by siggy
  • Sun, Apr 28, 2002 8:33am

If secrets were only money, ufcw members would be rich. But they ain't and we ain't.

Secrets are for hiding stuff.


  • posted by Richard
  • Sun, Apr 28, 2002 8:40am

quote:


The big problem is that they still are not at parity with Safeway. Until they get parity, Safeway will continue to beat concessions out of its employees.


Years ago, there was virtually no competition in Canada's retail grocery industry. Except for the odd anomaly, all major contracts within a region had basically the same contract. The only edge that an employer had was its ability to manage well or its economies of scale. The deal was, the big player went first and there was a tacit understanding that all others would follow the big player's lead.

It's only when the UFCW started to offer deals in return for members that the real competition started. Not only did the UFCW master the art of the two tier contract, they preceded that by allowing the same local to have two different contracts. One for Safeway and everybody else, and one dirt-cheap one for Westfair Foods.

Now the UFCW tries to give a semblance of dignity to their CAs by making sure the top end looks great. However, those who make it to the top end are few and far between. And when you consider that even those with the fortitude to make it to the top, they don't have any guarantee that they will ever achieve full-time status.

Hang your heads low UFCW. Hang your heads real low.

  • posted by Jeff-Hulk-Hemp
  • Sun, Apr 28, 2002 8:16pm

The problem with Slaveway (aka) Safeway is this and we know what you people are going thur in Canada !In the Dominicks disvison our contact runs out Nov 9rd of this year !In our contact right now Management cant stock shevles or cut the hours so bad like they are !Infact we are filing grivances for Store Margers and Co-Marngers checking out coumsters and bagging !Of crouse the company says really busy but when they the hours down to the bone that forces the union to do one thing thats go to court !You see in our curret contact its no strike /lookout in the contact .Safeway will find lop holes in the contact .Thats how much of a stumb bag company this is and come Nov 9 rd Slaveway will get whats coming to them !

  • posted by Scott Mcpherson
  • Sun, Apr 28, 2002 11:27pm

quote:


'Right from the beginning, our members told us that real issue for them was respect,' said Hesse


Hey Tom, sell crazy someplace else...we're all stocked up here.

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