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Questions and Answers About the Safeway Extra Final Offer Selection (FOS)
Published August 29, 2016

What is FOS? Final Offer Selection is a type of arbitration. It is a binding process to resolve a dispute where both the Union and the Company submit a final "offer", in this case a full Collective Agreement. The FOS Arbitrator then chooses between the Union’s "offer" or the Company’s "offer" and it becomes the final award. There is no ability to for the Arbitrator to craft a middle ground which means one party wins, and the other party loses.
The FOS Arbitrator’s task in this case is to rule on which final offer best represents an appropriate Collective Agreement for the Safeway Extra Banner. The object of the FOS process is to encourage each party to be reasonable in their demands in order to have the best chance of having their final offer selected by the FOS Arbitrator.

Who will the FOS Arbitrator be? This has to be decided by mutual agreement of the parties. No agreement has been reached on the appointment of a FOS Arbitrator at this time. Such discussions are expected to take place shortly.

What is the procedure to be used by the Arbitrator to receive submissions and rule on which final offer will be selected? Unless the details of the FOS procedure are prescribed in the Collective Agreement (in this case they are not), it will be ultimately up to the FOS Arbitrator to instruct the parties on how to proceed.

Has the Union tabled a final offer yet? No, but the Employer has. The Union will be submitting our final offer at the time we are asked to by the FOS Arbitrator.

How will the Union develop its final offer? We will be developing our final offer in consultation with legal counsel, our negotiating committee members, our Union’s Leadership, and the other Local. We will need to decide on how best to achieve grandfathering (wages, pension, benefits etc.) for existing members in conversion stores while being reasonable in our overall demands so as to give ourselves the best chance of winning the final offer selection arbitration.

Will there be a vote of the members affected by the outcome? No. Because this is legal process, the FOS Arbitrator’s ruling is final and binding on the parties.

Why can't we go on strike? A strike in these circumstances would be illegal and could carry severe financial penalties for the Union and its members.

Why don’t we go to the media? While sometimes an effective tactic in conventional contract negotiations, in these circumstance a media campaign would not have any impact on the FOS Arbitrator’s decision.

How did the New Banner contract clause get into the Safeway Collective Agreement? The clause was first negotiated into the Safeway Collective Agreement back in 1997 essentially because it had just been negotiated into the Save on Foods/Overwaitea Collective Agreement a few months prior. It was intended to be a protection for our members against facing the prospect of a new banner opening non-union and then being put in competition with unionized stores.

Why is there a Job Security Guarantee (Grandfathering) Letter of Understanding in the Save Foods-Overwaitea Collective Agreement but not in the Safeway Collective Agreement? In the late 90s and early 2000s the Overwaitea Food Group favored a “multi-banner approach” for securing Market Share (e.g. Pricesmart, Coopers, Save-On Foods, Overwaitea Foods, Urban Fare etc.). The New Banner language was negotiated into their Collective Agreement in 1997 to protect against the prospect of new banner stores opening without being unionized and in direct competition with Union Stores. The late 1990s saw the creation of the Urban Fare and original Pricesmart Store (by way of new openings, not conversions) as well as the acquisition of the Coopers chain. The New Banner clause ensured that those chains opened as Union Shops and with appropriate Collective Agreements for those operations.
Conversion to new banners began years later (in 2005-06) when the first Save On Foods Stores were converted to Pricesmart Foods stores. Because the Union had seen the potential for these conversions as a very real likelihood with Overwaitea Food Group, we had earlier negotiated grandfathering into the 2003-2008 SOF-OW Collective Agreement.
By Comparison Canada Safeway had historically preferred to operate B.C. stores under the single Safeway banner. At that time, the prospect of Canada Safeway converting stores to new banners was not likely - based on their long history of a single banner approach. In 2003 we were unable to get Safeway to agree to the grandfathering clause Overwaitea had agreed to, but in light of their historical preference for one type of store, it was not seen at that time seen to be a critical issue with Safeway. No one could have reasonably foreseen what would happen 13 years later as the result of the Sobeys purchase of Canada Safeway.
After Canada Safeway was purchased by Sobeys (who has their own history of using a multi banner approach elsewhere) the new owners seized full advantage of the New Banner clause by using it, in conjunction with 2 conversions (Langley and Dawson Creek), to secure a separate Collective Agreement for the Safeway Extra banner. The Union has been fighting against this, and for the grandfathering protections, ever since the first Safeway conversion was announced a few months ago.
Achieving grandfathering for Safeway members is the main priority of the both Unions in this FOS arbitration.


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