New collective agreements for two separate groups of employees include improvements to health benefits and work-life balance.

The negotiations between Federated Co-operatives Ltd. and Unifor, which have been bargaining since the last collective agreement expired on Aug. 31, 2020, include improvements to benefits, increased scheduling flexibility and a one per cent wage increase in each year of the new agreement for current employees at the top of their pay scale.

FCL is continuing to pay 100 per cent of the total premium cost for the group dental plan for at least the term of the new collective agreement, according to Cam Zimmer, director of communications and public relations at the co-operative federation.

Read: Unifor, Co-op end months-long pension dispute with new collective agreement

The agreement covers more than 170 employees at the Edmonton distribution centre, 92 per cent of whom voted in favour of accepting FCL’s latest offer.  “We acknowledge the important role our distribution team members play in our day-to-day operations,” said Ron Healey, vice-president of agriculture and consumer business at FCL, in a press release. “We also appreciate the efforts of the bargaining committees, who worked respectfully through a range of difficult bargaining issues and were able to reach a deal together.”

In another new collective agreement, workers at GFL Environmental Inc. will receive improvements to their life insurance and health benefits plans, as well as improved vacation benefits for members with 15 years of service.

It also includes full retroactive pay from April 27 in addition to a $500 signing bonus for all members on the seniority lists and hourly pay increases of between $2.30 and $3.55. The agreement will also bring in a new women’s advocate position and provisions for substance abuse and mental-health support.

Read: Vale mine workers in Sudbury striking over cuts to drug coverage, retiree health benefits

“Unifor Local 4268 members at GFL showed their solidarity in this round of negotiations and their support for the bargaining committee helped secure this great collective agreement during a difficult time,” said Debbie Montgomery, president of Local 4268, in a release. “Expectations were high when entering bargaining and I’m proud that members have ratified this contract that will make their jobs better now and for years to come.”

GFL didn’t respond to Benefits Canada‘s request for comment.