May 07, 2019
Arbitrator David McPhillips to conduct FreshCo contract hearings

Arbitrator David McPhillips will conduct Final Offer Selection arbitration hearings between UFCW Local 247 and Sobeys to settle terms for a new contract in former Safeway stores that are converting to FreshCo stores.

At this time, no hearing dates have yet been confirmed.

As previously reported, the Union and Sobeys had met to discuss the FreshCo banner and a collective agreement for UFCW 247 members who would be employed in these locations. Although we were able to resolve the majority of issues, the Union is not in agreement with the Company's position on the following items:

1) The proposed wage scales for part time employees
2) The absence of annual increases or payments
3) Health and Welfare benefits

These issues will now be resolved through a Final Offer Selection arbitration hearing as set out in the Safeway BC­UFCW 247 collective agreement under LOU #12:

In the event Safeway decides to open stores operating under a new banner, that are different in size or type of operation from its conventional stores, the Employer will enter into negotiations with the Union to develop a Collective Agreement that is appropriate for the type of business contemplated. 
Should a dispute arise as to the terms of the Collective Agreement, the items in dispute shall be referred to a final offer selections process.

Once we have dates confirmed for hearings, we will update members via the website. 

Some FreshCo locations are likely to open before Mr. McPhillips has issued his rulings, and the Union and Company have agreed that employees will be covered by the agreed-upon conditions to this point. 

“Final Offer Selection”: what is it and how does it work?

Negotiations for a FreshCo contract will end up before arbitrator David McPhillips in a “Final Offer Selection” arbitration hearing (FOS).

So what exactly is FOS, and how does it work?

  • In FOS, the Union Negotiating Committee and employer make what are  final offers on each of the outstanding issues to an arbitrator;
  • Each side make presentations to the arbitrator about why they believe the arbitrator should select their position;
  • The arbitrator then chooses one of the two final offers;  
  • The arbitrator has no authority to alter or adjust any part of the final settlement, only to choose one offer;
  •  The chosen offer then becomes part of the new contract.

The fact that the arbitrator can only choose either the union’s or the employer’s position means FOS has a “winner-take-all” element.

This is intentional, as FOS is designed to put pressure on each side to come up with reasonable, practical positions if they want the arbitrator to select their position.

FOS is not used often, but seems to be an increasingly common form of arbitration in jurisdictions across Canada and the US.