Workers ratified a new Collective Agreement at Andrew Peller Plant in Kelowna on June 11th. The 46 members will see numerous improvements in the three-year agreement.
“We’ve had a two-tier wage and benefit structure since 2013, but now benefits and holidays are all one core group, and Tier 2 workers get the chance to get into Tier 1 wages,” said Rick Paulger, a machine operator who’s been at the plant since 2001. “The new system helps protect the highest paying jobs.”
Members won a 6% retroactive raise to June 1st, 2023, in the first year of the Agreement. In the second year, workers will get a 3% raise on June 1st, 2024, and a 2.5% raise in the third year. Premiums have also increased for afternoon and graveyard shifts.
“I’m happy that all employees now have the chance to max out vacation at seven weeks,” said Steve Farthing, who is already at the max amount. He’s been employed at the winery for 25 years. Those hired in 2013 and later had been maxed at five weeks under the tiered system. “It’s a huge gain for our group,” he added.
Some of the other key highlights of the new Agreement include improved medical benefits, a life insurance increase, better vacation pay, a stat holiday (National Truth and Reconciliation Day), and a new article on pregnancy leave.
All employees now have access to an increased Post Retirement Health Care Spend account of $1500 / couples and $750 / singles.
In the area of benefits, the improvements include one benefit plan for all members who have worked 132 shifts, with significant net benefits for all employees – increased vision care and dental coverage, as well as significant increases in paramedical benefits. A new $3,000 mental health benefit includes coverage for psychologists, social workers (MSW), family therapists, psychotherapists, and clinical counsellors or psychiatrists.
“This was my first time on the negotiating team, and it was a good experience,” said Jason Boulton, a wine cellarman who has been with the company for 22 years. “I worked hard and learned a lot. Frankly, we’ve made good gain across the board and it’s a great contract.”
Members should refer to the CBA for details.