We are an industrial union.

The Retail Wholesale Union is an Industrial Union. This means that every worker engaged by a common employer may participate in the collective bargaining process with that employer for the betterment of all.

Historically, in April 1947 the Industrial Union of Sugar Workers, a chartered local of the CLC, was aligned and chartered as Local 517 of the United Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers of America, CIO. The Sugar Workers formed the nucleus of this International Organization in B.C.

In 1981 the membership of the three active Locals of the Union (Locals 580, 517, and 470) finalized their disaffiliation from the International Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and formed the Retail Wholesale Union in B.C.

The Canadian Area of the ILWU has given support and understanding of our concerns while providing the means for our affiliation to the B.C. Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress.



We are a group of Workers who formed into a Retail Wholesale Union for the protection of each other and for the security of being able to have some say in our working future. Our Union is structured in a way where all members have equal say in how the Union Constitution is structured, what the By-Laws of the Union will say, what is in the Collective Agreements and all matters pertaining to our Great Union and our Working Life.

The RWU is an autonomous Union

  • All officers of the Retail Wholesale Union are elected.
  • Decisions are made by the membership at conventions, membership meetings and by their elected committees and officers.
  • Only those affected by a collective agreement have the right to vote on that agreement and that membership will formulate the demands the negotiating committee presents to the employer.
  • Officers are bound by the decisions and directives of the membership.
  • Each local elects its own officers and executive.