Workers at Berezan Hospitality Group’s liquor store in Surrey won their union late Thursday after applying with 100 percent union support at the BC Labour Relations Board. Their union application comes within a week of two other stores unionizing with the Service Employees International Union Local 2.
“Workers are demanding more respect and safety on the job everywhere,” said Mark Tremblett who has been working with the company for nearly four years. “The increased cost of living is making it difficult for working people to have a decent living, so we knew it was time to act and demand the dignity and respect we deserve.”
Berezan Hospitality Group operates nine liquor stores across BC as well as a ski resort, casinos and other businesses. Last week workers at the company’s Kelowna and Port Moody locations certified their unions at the BC Labour Relations Board.
“We’re really proud to be the first unionized private liquor store in Kelowna,” said Cody Dilullo an employee at the location in Kelowna and one of the leaders in the union drive at Berezan. “This location has a long history in the community, and we’re excited for its continued success.”
Following the union wins at the first two stores, Berezan Hospitality Group extended an unheard of nearly 10% wage increase to all its employees except for its two unionized stores, which came into effect on September 1.
In response, SEIU Local 2 filed an Unfair Labour Practice at the BC Labour Relations Board arguing that the timing of these wage increases is discriminatory and meant to be an inducement for the non-union stores to not join the union and for the current unionized members to leave the union. SEIU is asking that the same 10 percent increase apply to the two unionized stores before collective bargaining commences.
“It’s clear why this increase was extended to our store,” added Tremblett, whose co-workers unionized following the wage increase. “When the minimum wage went up in June, some of my co-workers got a small bump, some of us got nothing at all. This 10% simply brings us to where we were before inflation spiked, which is still too low.”
SEIU local 2 represents workers across British Columbia in the liquor production, distribution and retail industry including Mission Hill Winery, Westgate Liquor Store, Molson-Coors Beverage Company, Turning Point Brewery, Granville Island, and Okanagan Springs.
“We are looking forward to the company’s continued growth and success by investing in their workers who make this all possible,” says Marissa Iacobucci, from the Port Moody location. “As a worker, it’s so important to understand your rights and it’s exciting to watch my colleagues advocate for themselves and each other! My co-workers, as well as all liquor and retail workers deserve fairness, respect, and security. We are proud to be part of the recent movement and to have the support of SEIU Local 2.”
CBC News: Workers at 3 private liquor stores in B.C. unionize, file complaint against employer over pay raise (click to read)
Castanet News: Private liquor store in Kelowna unionizes (click to read)