Workers at Sephora cosmetics store in Kamloops, B.C., first in North America to unionize

·2 min read
Workers at the Sephora store in Kamloops, B.C., have officially unionized. The store is the first in North America to unionize, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers Union. (Brianne McDaniel - image credit)
Workers at the Sephora store in Kamloops, B.C., have officially unionized. The store is the first in North America to unionize, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers Union. (Brianne McDaniel - image credit)

Employees at a cosmetics store in Kamloops, B.C. have officially unionized.

Workers at the Sephora in Aberdeen Mall filed to unionize last week. On Wednesday, their membership with the United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 1518 (UFCW 1518) became official.

According to UFCW 1518, this is the first Sephora store in North America to unionize.

Union president Kim Novak said the campaign to unionize was led primarily by "young" workers, adding that there are approximately 30 workers at that particular Sephora location, which opened in 2018.

Earlier this year the provincial government changed the way unions would be certified: if more than 55 per cent of a workplace votes to sign union cards, they automatically become certified with the B.C. Labour Relations Board.

Novak said they had well above the required 55 per cent.

Wage and benefit improvements are the top priorities for workers, the union says, and it is prepared to begin bargaining.

Flexibility for part-time workers and equality when it comes to hours are also important to workers.

"I couldn't be prouder of these bold workers," Novak said in a news release Wednesday.

"They're trailblazers, and it's that kind of forward-thinking, resilient approach to organizing that will win them a fairer workplace."

She told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce she's seeing a growing trend in the retail industry of young workers organizing to unionize.

"Young workers in particular ... want to have better workplaces, they want to stand together to have a collective voice and they're starting to make that change by joining a union."

UFCW 1518 represents over 26,000 B.C. workers at various shops and businesses, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Hudson's Bay and Interior Health.

In an email to CBC, a Sephora spokesperson said the company "will work closely with all parties on next steps."

"Our preference will always be to have direct and open communication between our leaders and employees versus third party representation," reads the statement.

According to the company's website, it has more than 2,500 stores in 32 countries.