Manitoba Safeway workers ratify new contract

Safeway workers have voted to ratify a new four-year collective agreement with parent company Sobeys, averting a possible strike.

Deal applies to 2,200 employees who work at stores in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Neepawa and Dauphin

The new contract for unionized workers at Manitoba Safeway stores protects their no-cost benefits, dental plan, and seniority rights and builds on those protections with wage gains in the third and fourth year of the deal. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Safeway workers have voted to ratify a new four-year collective agreement with parent company Sobeys, averting a strike.

The 2,200 employees — who work at stores in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Neepawa and Dauphin — earlier this month voted 98 per cent in favour of a strike to back contract demands.

Negotiations continued between the company and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, which led to a new tentative agreement that the union took back to the employees on the weekend.

That deal was given overwhelming support in a vote on Sunday, UFCW said on its website.

"I couldn't be more proud of our bargaining committee and our members for giving us such a strong strike mandate that made this deal possible," Jeff Traeger, president of UFCW Local 832, stated in a release on the union website.

"This is our first full round of negotiations with Sobeys since they took over ownership of the Safeway brand in Western Canada, and they were pushing hard for major concessions since day one.

"It wasn't until the final hours of bargaining that we were able to make serious movement and come up with a tentative agreement that works for both sides."

The new contract protects the workers' no-cost benefits, dental plan, and seniority rights and builds on those protections with wage gains in the third and fourth year of the contract, the union said.

"Knowing the realities that the company faces, our bargaining committee got the best contract possible," said Traeger.