Edmonton company stops contract negotiations with workers

The 20 Alsco workers won their unionization vote earlier this year, and they were bargaining for their first collective agreement.

Last week, Local 401 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union published a media release regarding negotiations between their bargaining team and Alsco.

Based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, but with branches in Calgary and Edmonton, Alsco specializes in uniform and linen rental and cleaning services.

Last December, Alcso drivers in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Red Deer submitted an application with the Alberta Labour Relations Board to unionize with UFCW.

These drivers work between 8 and 14 hours a day, regardless of weather, to pick up and deliver heavy-duty industrial workwear, uniforms, restaurant and hospital linens, nonslip floor mats, floor care products, and washroom and first-aid supplies to businesses throughout northern Alberta, as well as Fort St. John, British Columbia.

After a successful unionization vote, the ALRB certified the unionization of these 20 workers, roughly 2 months from when they submitted their application.

About two and a half months later, Alsco and UFCW bargaining teams were able to agree to negotiating dates throughout May and June.

By the time the final scheduled sessions in June had passed, the two parties had yet to agree on the workers’ first collective agreement and had set additional sessions to occur last week.

However, last Tuesday, the employer presented what they called their “final offer” and “broke off” any remaining negotiations sessions.

Chris O’Halloran, the executive director for UFCW Local 401 and a member of the union’s bargaining team, stated in a statement while “there are some good improvements in the new contract, . . . the company has clearly missed the mark on compensation and matters related to health and safety”.

For example, according to the UFCW Local 401, the employer’s final offer included a a 20% reduction in the base wages for route sales representatives.

As well, the company originally proposed that base pay be calculated on 37 hours a week. In their final offer, that was changed to base pay being calculated on 40 hours.

The bargaining committee will be finalizing the offer, which they will then send out to their membership for review. They will then schedule an information meeting and organize a vote so workers can indicate whether they support the deal offered by Alsco.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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