Money-losing MEC to hike workers' wages up to 6%

Raises ordered by mediator following successful unionization drives in Vancouver and Victoria

MEC CEO Phil Arrata stands in front of one of some mannequins at one of his stores | Chung Chow

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), which lost nearly $11.5 million in its 2018-19 fiscal year, will give wage hikes to all employees, with the majority of those hikes being up to 6%.

The hikes come thanks to a mediator yesterday imposing a first collective agreement between MEC and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1518. The agreement, however, included a wage hike for all workers, not just those who are union members, according to the union.

“This isn’t the first time that the union’s advocacy paid off for all MEC staff – not just those who belong to UFCW 1518,” said UFCW 1518 president Kim Novak. “Barely two weeks after workers at the Vancouver flagship location voted to join our union, MEC announced wage increases to all MEC employees across Canada. That’s power.”

Workers at the MEC store on West Broadway in Vancouver voted to unionize in April while workers at a store in Victoria voted to unionize in November.

No one at MEC immediately responded to Business in Vancouver’s request for a comment.

MEC generated $462 million in sales across 22 stores in its last fiscal year.

For comparison, MEC had similar sales during 2017-18 at $455 million – a period in which it was operating fewer stores – and posted an $11.7 million profit.

Retail analyst and DIG 360 principal David Gray told BIV last month that it usually takes about a year or two for new stores to sort themselves out and begin performing similarly to others within a chain.

– includes a file from Tyler Orton