After months of organizing and negotiating, workers at Lifestyle Market have acheived their first collective agreement.
In February, workers voted to join UFCW 1518, becoming the first grocery store to unionize in Victoria in decades. Almost two months later, nearly two dozen customers and supporters staged a socially distant protest, banging pots and pans in the store to demand hazard pay.
According to a statement from UFCW 1518, negotiations wrapped up in July and the collective agreement was put to a vote. The workers ratified the agreement unanimously, “ushering in a new era of respect in the workplace.”
Lifestyle Market staff will now receive hazard pay, retroactive to March 8, with their first-ever benefits package including health, extended care, prescription drug coverage and dental benefits. Workers will also receive paid sick days, enhanced paid vacation, up to a 30 per cent wage increase over the life of their contract, a holiday bonus and a 20 per cent store discount.
“We’re encouraged to see what can happen when people act collectively,” said Keira Zikmanis, employee and bargaining committee member, in a statement.
“Now that we have a contract in place, workers will be paid the hazard pay they deserve, move closer towards a living wage, and have the protections we need to make this store a fair and equitable place to work.”