One of 11 Cascadia Liquor Stores is now part of a union the workers will rely on to achieve better working conditions in their location.
The Quadra Village location of Cascadia Liquor Store has won their certification at the BC Labour Relations Board and will be heading to the negotiating table with upper management soon.
Early last week, nearly 30 employees at the Quadra Village Cascadia voted overwhelmingly in support of joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 2 which represents over 20,000 workers in Ontario, BC, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta.
“Being part of a union allows us to use our collective voice to ensure our concerns are addressed,” said Oscar Towert, a full time Cascadia employee and a student at the University of Victoria.
“Workers’ wages simply can’t stay as flat as they have in this economy and this housing market — forming our union is our opportunity to bargain for what’s fair.”
In recent months and years, more liquor store workers than ever have been pushing for unionization, especially in the Lower Mainland and Okanogan regions of BC.
In many of these locations, conditions were improved and employees saw their pay increased within a few months of unionizing.
According to the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria (CSPC), the living wage based on a 35 hour work week was estimated at just over $24 per hour for Victoria in 2022.
The standard pay at the Quadra Village Cascadia is less than this figure and some of the employees have struggled with the rate of inflation, rising grocery prices and living expenses in the past few years with not many raises.
“The cost of living has never been higher and it’s workers like us who bear the brunt of that the most,” says Amelie Guillemette. “Forming our union is merely us giving ourselves a chance to make ends meet every month.”
“What I like the most about unionizing is the fact that it’s the workers who are driving it. We’re grasping our opportunity to raise standards for wages and working conditions within the private liquor industry — it starts with us.”
This is the first of the 11 Cascadia locations to bid for unionization and if it is successful in achieving what it wants, it may not be the last.
Cascadia is owned by the Truffles Group which also owns Flight Cannabis, the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, Habitat Catering and Truffles Catering.