Saturday, October 6, 2012

Elko Echo blog ends* October 15 and you are redirected to:

The website for USW Local 1-405 is has become more interactive.
Included on the USW Local 1-405 website is:
  • Collective Agreement.
  • Job Posting Supplements.
  • Lots of information pertaining to the Elko operation under the heading "Our Certifications" (go to the scroll down list and select Elko)
  • Information pertaining to other operations under the heading "Our Certifications."
  • Elko  current "Union Management Meeting Notes."
The Elko Echo blog* was created to present current online information that will now be published online by the website of Local 1-405.

The Elko Echo has served its purpose, and now re-directs you to the website of Local 1-405 as your source of online information about our union, and many details about Elko agreements.

Thank you for your patronage, and remember, as union members, "United we stand...Divided we fall."

Ron Fisher,
Job Steward and publisher of the Elko Echo blog.

*Note - the Elko Echo blog will remain online for a number of months for archive purposes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Union Management Meeting, September 11, 2012

Union Committee Present: Bryan Gaudet, Tom Molenaar, Ron Fisher, Enzo Caccavo, Reuben Blackwater, Tom Doucette

Management Present: Adrien C., Laura C., Shaun F., Dave P., Royce L., Mark P., Alex S.

Meeting started at 2:09 P.M.

New Business
Company Update
MANAGEMENT: Safety has been very good in Elko since Canfor has taken over, there are still some first aids but the numbers are coming down. Elko and Canal are still much higher than the rest of the company when it comes too Primes being made. (Grades above a standard number 2 grade) Lumber recovery was poor in Elko last month but this was mostly due to some scanner issues that we had to work through at the sawmill. Our sawmill FBM/hr is improving but still has room to grow. We have had some good shifts and we think we can make this happen more consistently. The production at the planer is still low but has seen some improvement. The lumber from the mill due as a result of the scanner problems caused some significant down time for planer jams last month and that reflects in the production numbers.
The planer project went well. The paper wrap install went in without a hitch. We needed to bring in a larger crane than the one we have on site but other than that there were no surprises and it went smooth. The project we wanted for the full planer upgrade and the cut to length upgrade has come out a little higher than we forecasted at first. We are currently working on re-bundling it and seeing how we can make the project work for the board’s approval. We are still confident that we will make the project work. As for mobile equipment the 988 will be on site in the next couple weeks, we are just waiting for a grapple. We also have another new fork on its way. We want to get a spare fork on site so that we can do some proper preventative maintenance to the machinery. There has been a lot of operator damage to the mobile equipment that we need to try to prevent, as a tire here and a fender there and other things being needlessly repaired cut into the money we have to buy new stuff.
Christmas Break
MANAGEMENT: Since the price of lumber is good, every day is operational for us so we will be planning to be operational around the stats at Christmas and New Year’s. We will run day shift and night shift and the afternoon shifts will be shut down without pay for the 24th and 31st.
UNION: Can we work a couple make up shifts beforehand too make up for the time and get all the guys off for the two Mondays?
MANAGEMENT: Yes we can look at it but it would have to be in December to keep the numbers correct for that month.
UNION: We will talk to the local as we will need to have them okay it and draw up a letter of understanding. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Postings and OT notifications
UNION: Apprenticeship postings were not put up everywhere and it was worded funny. Can we re post it or extend it?
MANAGEMENT: We will extend it so the people who already signed it will not have to sign it again if they miss it this time. Sue will be doing the postings on all of the boards so there will not be any more mistakes like this again and it will also let her get out of the office now and again too.
UNION: Can we have the top candidates posted right away after the postings come down as well?
MANAGEMENT: We have a new template and will be doing this right away.

UNION: We have a need for a mobile servicemen spare. Right now we are covering him with heavy duty mechanics.
MANAGEMENT: We think a spare makes sense; we will look at posting it soon.
UNION: We have a lot of outstanding spares that need to be posted and trained and a few that have to be trained ASAP. Some of these guys have held their spares for months and have not yet set foot on their spare.
MANAGEMENT: We need to look at the list and get the jobs posted. This is why we won’t give a date for the new servicemen spare right now.
UNION: We need communication on grievance resolves. We need to keep on the same page here.
MANAGEMENT: How are we doing step ones? Let’s follow the collective agreement and have the worker grieving the issue at hand talk to their supervisors themselves or with a union rep.
*lots of discussion on grievance procedures*
MANAGEMENT: We will talk to our supervisors and let them know we would like them to resolve as many of these on their own as possible. If we make a mistake let’s just get it dealt with and save all the shuffle and excess paperwork for us and the plant committee.
UNION: Thank you, we will let the membership know the process.
***this is an insert to help you better understand the process if it is unclear to you***
(Grievances are handled as per our Collective Agreement, Article XV – Grievance Procedure. As a Committee our scope usually resides in Step One and Step Two grievances. Page 51 of our current published Collective Agreement contains the following:
Step One: The individual employee, with or without a Job Steward, shall first take the matter up with the Foreman in charge of the work within fourteen (14) calendar days.
Step Two: If a satisfactory settlement is not then reached, it shall be reduced to writing by both Parties, when the same Employee and Committee shall take up the grievance with the Superintendent or the Personnel Officer, or both, as designated by the Company. If desired, the Union Business Agent shall accompany the Committee.
If a person has a question as to if their issue is something that should be grieved, by all means, talk to one of your union reps first. We can accompany you in talking with your supervisor or just guide you on how the process works beforehand. The process isn’t changing. Right now we have made a habit of letting our union reps talk to the supervisors at first step without the worker and this should stop happening wherever possible and we hope that the supervisor is now going to be able to work with us on this issue instead of just telling us to go talk to Dave or Shaun or Royce. If you have any questions about this process please talk to any of your union reps at any time)
UNION: Scheduling meetings, we have had a heck of a time doing this since Canfor has taken over. Is there something we can do to get better at this so we don’t miss meetings and can deal with things in a timelier manner?
MANAGEMENT: Have we missed meetings?
UNION: Yes, the May and August UM meetings and it has been a pain in the ass trying to schedule UM meetings and Safety committee meetings and grievance meetings.
MANAGEMENT: We all have things come up and right now Laura is back and forth between here and Radium but we can make things work better going forward.
UNION: Let’s try and schedule these UM meetings sometime in the second week of the month so we have more time to fit them in if schedules are busy.
Weekend production
UNION: What is the plan for running the OT shifts at the mill and planer? Are we able to have any consistency as the lack of consistency can handicap some crew’s ability to work these shifts if it constantly falls on the week they are afternoons? This has been a problem in the past and we have brought it forward then but hope that it will not be a problem in the future.
MANAGEMENT: We cannot commit to anything in stone but we are trying to work as many as possible. This will be based on the price of lumber and upon the dry inventory and log inventory as well.
OT policy
UNION: We need to clarify the OT policy, we are spending too much time doing grievances and the company is paying out a lot of money for their mistakes.
MANAGEMENT: This is a topic we also asked to have on the agenda as we too agree something has to be done to clarify it. Let’s get a couple committee members to sit down with Dave and Shaun and have them work on this.
UNION: Okay we will get a few interested guys and let you know who they are so we can work on this ASAP.
UNION: Have you got anywhere on this?
MANAGEMENT: Yes but it is not good. We have been told that the two other mills that were doing this were canceled as well due to some new legal obligations the company has to follow in order to do this now. This will be looked at in the future but will not be available for holiday pay in November of this year. We agree it is a good thing for to offer the guys but for now they will have to do this on their own.
Job posting supplement
UNION: Can we update this? This is older than some of our workers and some of it does not work out here anymore.
MANAGEMENT: We hear that there was an attempt to change this a few years back and was voted down.
UNION: Canal voted it down if we remember correctly as it was intended to apply in Elko and Canal.
MANAGEMENT: We will try to track down what it was that was offered before. We will look at something better if it makes sense. Let’s all bring Ideas together and see what we can do.
UNION: Back in the day we had a supplement that was pretty basic and worked well. It could be used as a template. I (Ron) will look for it as it is quite old, from the Crowsnest days in the 1980’s.
Vacation scheduling
UNION: I (Bryan) have some new ideas that could make the vacation policy a lot easier for us and the company.
MANAGEMENT: Can we have Dave and Shaun go over this with a few of the committee members? Also we should get something worked on with Royce and the maintenance department.
UNION: We will talk to some of the guys in the bottom shop and see if we can get one of them to either give us ideas or come and work on this with us and Royce. The plan that was mentioned before Royce showed up was not at all going over well in that department.
First aid
UNION: Can we set up a first aid station at the planer by the dry? This is our marshaling station and during some of the past power outages when we go to the marshaling station we have to send someone back into the plant to get the first aid supplies. They are currently in the old washroom in the supervisor’s office. It is also brought to our attention that we should have a defibrillator at the planer as if someone was to have a heart attack they would probably be gone by the time we got someone to the mill and back with the one there. I (Tom) am very in favor of having this at the planer as I might need it myself!
MANAGEMENT: Yes we will do this, let’s move it to the safety committee and let them figure out what has to be done in order to make this happen.
UNION: We have no oversized gloves or vests and cannot get any face shields for the planer feeders at the planer. This has been brought to the company’s attention in the past while Canfor has been here and we were told this will not happen again. Currently some of us are destroying gloves by ripping them to fit them on just so we can use them and using ratty vests. This is unacceptable.
MANAGEMENT: It is very unacceptable and we will get this matter fixed right now. Workers should not have to modify PPE to make it work. We are talking to a vendor to get them to supply us weekly with the PPE that we need at the planer. This will make sure that the PPE is on the shelf when we need it all the time.
MANAGEMENT: on a final note the company will be using a different paper on the Select, MSR and number 2 products soon. This will be a red paper so that the customer will know where it comes from and ask for our product. This paper will only be used by the mills in the Kootenays. (Elko, Canal Flats and Radium only) We have nice white lumber and we want people to know where it comes from to keep customers asking for our wood.
Meeting ends 4:25 P.M.
Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Tom Molenaar
Secretary Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405

Monday, August 6, 2012

Union Management Meeting July 25, 2012

Union Committee Present: Bryan Gaudet, Len Holmgren, Tom Molenaar, Jason Cleland, Dave Tracy, Chris Cadogen, Ron Fisher.
Management Present: Adrien C, Laura C, Shaun F, Dave P, Royce L, Mark P
Meeting started at 2:09

New Business
UNION: We would like to start the meeting by advising you that the Elko Plant Committee appointed Len Holmgren as Vice Chairperson of our Plant Committee.
 Company Update
MANAGEMENT: Safety wise we are doing very well as a plant since Canfor has taken over. Lots of first aids happening but little to no doctor visits and lost times. As for quality we are by far leading (along with Canal) in grade return. Fir brought the numbers down a bit but we still got a good grade return on it. Our lumber recovery per log is very high and we are going in the right direction. In the mill we are doing very well production wise, the numbers are looking good week in and week out. The production at the planer is suffering, along with Canal, compared to the other Canfor locations but these two planer mills are the only ones that have not been upgraded yet so we understand the difference in the numbers. Our log cost is higher than the average but we get a quality log and we are working on getting these costs down as well. MSR is at a much higher premium than our other products at the moment and we will be pushing the MSR in the coming runs.
Elko is in the positive earnings for the first time, significantly, in five years. In 2009 we made some money a few months but this is the first time it has been this high in that time period. June was the best month for Canfor as a whole since 2006.
In August the paper wrap dispenser will be upgraded at the bander to a 6 roll system from the current 2 roll system. We also sent notification to the local for jobs eliminated brought about by the cut-to-length project, which we will start as soon as November. This is a couple million dollar project. In October Elko will be going to The Board for a 38 million dollar upgrade that will be spread across the whole plant. This being said I (Adrien) am confident we should get some capital but I want to say clearly that this is not a guarantee that we will get any capital for any upgrades. This is just the plan that we will be taking to The Board in October.
UNION: Is the log deck a 100% go in November?
MANAGEMENT: Not 100% that it will be done in November but it will be a go.
UNION: Any downtime for the log deck upgrade?
MANAGEMENT: We don’t want to take any downtime. We will try to do it in chunks and not lose any time. Canfor does not want to lose any production due to upgrades, especially now that the market is turning around.
UNION: How many jobs will be lost due to this log deck upgrade?
MANAGEMENT: We will be losing about 8 jobs in total, four per shift. (Barko crane, one debarker and both cut off saws)
UNION: Will we be starting some apprenticeships? How will we absorb these 8 workers lost due to tech change?
 MANAGEMENT: We will try to expedite apprenticeships and see if we can take some more maintenance people on this way. We will look at this over the next few weeks. We want two apprentices right away, and will determine the need for other apprentices based on demographics.
UNION: While on the topic, how will we replace the 2 millwrights we have lost?
MANAGEMENT: We are currently working on some leads we have and are trying to hire a few.

Planermen Status
UNION: These guys are doing nothing but OT, will we get more people in this department?
MANAGEMENT: We will be possibly using millwrights. The Planerman School is not offered anymore and a lot of the work done over there is millwright work anyway. In Polar we put a second guy on per shift with the upgrade so it may be something we look at in the future.

Banked OT
UNION: What are Canfor’s thoughts of offering banked OT for our workers?
MANAGEMENT: None of the Canfor mills do it now but what were your ideas?
UNION: We used to have any overtime over an hour as able to be banked.
MANAGEMENT: We can’t answer this right now but we can look at it. Can you give us a proposal?
 UNION: We will get back to you with it. I think we look at it a bit different than other places. We just want to bank OT so we can use that money when we take time off and take our holiday pay as a lump sum at the beginning of the year sort of like a bonus. The workers will not acquire more holiday hours; simply they would replenish some funds to pay for holidays. Many of us do not take our full holidays so we can do OT to save up for time off if we need. Canfor ultimately would gain the interest on the banked OT we would think.
Gym Pass
UNION: We used to have a plan with Tembec where they would pay 10 bucks a month for a gym pass for each worker who wanted to use a gym, is there anything Canfor can do to help our workers out in this department?
MANAGEMENT: We will talk about this at the safety meeting, please bring it up there as it is more relevant at that table.

UNION: We have lost one of our scalers who offered holiday relief, we believe the need to train another is there so these workers can take their holidays.
MANAGEMENT: We don’t have to have two spares. We don’t think there is another ticketed person on site and may have to hire off site to fill a vacancy if there becomes one in the future.

MANAGEMENT: We are changing our payroll system and the pay stubs will look different beginning September 14, and we will be loading the Tembec portion on to the new ones.

Paperwork for discipline
UNION: Can we speed up the paperwork process when you hand out discipline? The Worker gets a copy the representative gets a copy and the Committee executive gets a copy please. We would prefer the one sent to the executive be via e-mail.
MANAGEMENT: Ok we will speed this process up.
Holiday Pay
UNION: What is the cutoff and when will we be paid?
MANAGEMENT: We will re post the notice of dates and you can attach it to the minutes if you like. Vacation pay cut-off is November 3. The 2nd week of November on the 16th is when you will receive a separate Vacation Pay cheque.
UNION: What is happening with the vacation scheduling?
MANAGEMENT: We believe it can stay as January-January for bookings but we will look at it and talk to payroll and get back to you.
UNION: We may have to look at vacation scheduling according to the vacation year, based on when vacation pay is paid out. We will look into it also.

MANAGEMENT: We still can’t offer anything but will continue to look into this
UNION: Please make an honest effort before November as some of the guys would like to continue dumping their holiday pay in their RRSP.
UNION: Let’s get these permanent postings done, there is a time limit on getting these filled as per the job posting supplement.
MANAGEMENT: We will look at it and get it caught up.
UNION: We also have a bunch of vacant spares that need to be posted as well. Also what happened to the CLT spare that went up? We heard that it was canceled, is that true?
MANAGEMENT: Yes it is canceled, we have 2 spares and the problems we are having now are in the planer room not the CLT.
UNION: Relief supervisors are running out of days and we could also use them to relieve our own guys throughout the summer. Is there a possibility that you could shuffle some of your staff to cover staff holidays? Possibly using guys like Shaun and Dave or QC guys?
MANAGEMENT: Steve is going to the planer to offer some relief here next week but we don’t want to talk about this here.
UNION: We want results of Job Postings put up on the bulletin boards, as required in the contractual Job Posting Supplement, Section 8.
Job evaluations
UNION: We have more job evaluations coming up soon. Can we sit down and look at some of the major changes?
MANAGEMENT: We will come and look at it with you but some were covered in last year’s evaluation. We will stay on top of this.
UNION: What are we doing about manning? We have lost a lot of people; will we pay OT to cover holidays?
MANAGEMENT: We will do what we have to do to get through the holiday season. We have summer students hired and training right now as well. Things look better after August.
*some discussion about summer students and casuals and the process in place*
Radium hiring/transfers
UNION: What is the process to transfer or hire on in Radium from here?
MANAGEMENT: There is no transfer agreement. They need to apply like anyone else and if they are successful their company seniority for holiday weeks will transfer.
Kiln Schedule
UNION: Rumor has it that there may be a change in schedule at the kilns?
MANAGEMENT: No change in workers schedules, the schedule is not going to change.
Broadway road closed
UNION: Why was this road closed?
MANAGEMENT: There was a dust problem and we needed to deal with it immediately and closing the private road eliminated the dust problem. The trucks can take the road in from the other side.
Elko fire hall
UNION: Does Canfor support the Elko fire hall?
MANAGEMENT: We have not heard anything about it. Is it registered as a charity?
UNION: It is a local fire hall proposed for the community of Elko associated with the existing ones in the neighbouring communities of Jaffray and Baynes Lake; this project is done through the Regional District. Tembec was opposed to it. If you are not aware of this fire hall proposal, then you will learn of it through due process from the R.D.E.K., and there is no point in discussing it here.
MANAGEMENT: Tembec, as well as the CPR, was opposed to the tax increase at the time. *reminder from past Tembec staff*
MANAGEMENT: It would be interesting to know more about this, this is the first we have heard of it since we got here.
Meeting adjourned at 4:02
Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Tom Molenaar
Secretary Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sawmill Dust - Vancouver Sun news story

B.C. sawmills warned about dangers of dust before deadly explosions

Read more:

(There is an error in this story: the Elko Mill is incorrectly refered to as being in Elkford.)