Monday, September 7, 2009

Union Management Meeting - August 20, 2009

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Lee Roger
Management Present: Ian L., Roland K., Brad J., Dave P.

"Both the Elko Plant Committee and Elko Management would like to recognize and thank Lee Roger, Grader; Plant Committee Secretary, 15-year Safety Committee member and Level III First Aid Attendant for his exemplary service to the membership at Elko. Lee is leaving Elko to return to school in September. Good Luck Lee!"


1. Company Update -
UNION: Are we running for September?
MANAGEMENT: Officially nothing has been announced but the Pulp Mill has indicated that they need us to run during their two-week shutdown in September because of their low chip and hog levels.
UNION: What about going forward?
MANAGEMENT: Actually the outlook is probably the best it’s been in a while, relatively speaking. We are still facing extremely difficult conditions but there isn’t any downtime scheduled for fiscal 2010, which starts October 1. Comparatively speaking we were scheduled to be down for 7-8 weeks in fiscal 2009. Obviously there was much more but we’re scheduled to run during Christmas except for the usual stats. Going forward there’s even talk of running three shifts in 2012 or 2013. We’re also looking at scheduled downtime in the fiscal 2011 of two weeks in the summer and a week at Christmas, for maintenance and holiday scheduling. UNION: You’ll forgive us if we don’t share your optimism or confidence.

2. Bumping Issue -
UNION: Last month we thought we had the bumping issue of the scaler solved. We’re now told that he just bumped. What was the problem?
MANAGEMENT: It has been solved. The worker in question took the job he had indicated three weeks ago when approached by both a member of the committee and management. The worker in question has bumped to the Planer Stacker.
UNION: So what of the displaced Stacker operator?
MANAGEMENT: That worker hasn’t bumped yet but we don’t know where her seniority will take her.
UNION: It’s important that any bumps be done as quickly as possible. It should be within 24 hours.

3. Jobs to be Posted -
UNION: We have the Watchman, Janitor and Weekend Maintenance Helper/First Aid jobs that need to be posted.
MANAGEMENT: We’ve already posted the Watchman. The Janitor will go up now that the candidate for accommodation has been placed in another position. We’re also posting a temporary Re-Entry Loader job because the incumbent will be off for a significant amount of time. It is the weekend compressed schedule.
UNION: What about the Weekend Maintenance Helper/First Aid job?
MANAGEMENT: That job evolved into a Charge-hand job. The current bid holder does an excellent job with the supervisory aspect of the job, including orientation and safety training of the weekend casuals, many of which are younger workers/teenagers.
UNION: What rate do you pay him?
MANAGEMENT: On Sunday he get’s the $.50 premium.
UNION: On top of base rate? That doesn’t sound like you value him much.
MANAGEMENT: He does an exceptional job.
UNION: You’ve already schedule a junior First Aider in the job and we don’t agree with that. You need to post it and go through the process.
MANAGEMENT: We’ll need some lee-way on the posting then. We need to get a candidate that fits the huge responsibility of the job.
UNION: All our First Aid Attendants would fit the bill in our opinion. Post it and see who’s interested in the weekend job and go from there.

4. Job Training -
UNION: We realized the state of the company/industry when we first returned from the long layoff and your unwillingness to train spare postings unless absolutely needed because of cost. We think that now that we’re running steady you should live up to your commitments.
MANAGEMENT: Which jobs?
UNION: The 980 loader for one. The candidate has been waiting for months and months. Also the Tally Permanent and we’re seeing Graders run the forks again. How much does that cost you? Same with the OT on the loader because of one of the operator’s sickness.
MANAGEMENT: We’re going to begin training again as soon as the manning allows it.

5. Electrical Apprenticeship -
UNION: You have your candidate and things are beginning to turn around. Are you going to start his apprenticeship in October?
MANAGEMENT: At this time there will be no apprenticeship. The company can’t and won’t take on any more manning cost. We also haven’t come to any kind of agreement concerning our apprenticeship concerns from a meeting we held last year.
UNION: You know we can’t and won’t agree to that. We think you’re just reneging on your commitment when you posted the apprenticeship. You’ve got lucky that you found one electrician that you were able to hire and are still short one in the department. If you would’ve started the candidate last year when this started you’d already be a year into it. The trade shortage isn’t going away and once the economy turns it’s going to be just as bad.
MANAGEMENT: Corporate won’t take on any more cost.
UNION: You could hold off on posting his current job as it was created for him as an accommodation anyway, if you want to look at that way.
MANAGEMENT: We need that job. He’s done a very good job of making it an important job. UNION: You should treat him as such then. It’s pure Bullshit the way this is coming down and you know it.
MANAGEMENT: We’ll schedule another meeting with Jean-Luc in September to see if there’s any way to resolve this.

6. Grade Checker’s job -
UNION: We want this job posted.
MANAGEMENT: We’ve decided that Eric Drixler will do the Q.C. job on a plant-wide basis for a trial period until late October-November. We’re not going to post it at this time.
UNION: That’s garbage. Dave Payne told us in June he wanted a ‘Charge-hand’ in the job in order to get a lower seniority worker in the job and usurp the posting process. Now that you can’t have it that way you’re trying to make a bargaining unit job into a management job.
MANAGEMENT: It’s been that way before. We’re looking into seeing if this works.
UNION: We think you didn’t get your way so now you’re using staff.
MANAGEMENT: You won’t believe us but the discussion has been that we need a Q.C. job and this is the way we’re going to try it.
UNION: You’re right. We don’t believe you.

7. Processor in Logyard Review/Canal Rumours -
UNION: How long until the Processor in the logyard comes up for review?
MANAGEMENT: The agreement was one year and it’s up in December-January of this year.
UNION: We’ll review that then. We’ve heard some rumours of the new GM in Canal wanting to contract out the Filing work. Is this true?
MANAGEMENT: We don’t know anything about it. The new GM doesn’t start until October.

8. Logyard Grader -
UNION: When will the Grader be fixed?
MANAGEMENT: We’re hoping to have it done by the end of this week, at least a stop-gap measure so that we can get it back on the road. They need it. If it gets really bad we’re going to get a contractor in to touch up the roads.

9. Weekend Shift for the Mechanics shop? -
UNION: Have you approached the mechanics about an alternate shift schedule?
MANAGEMENT: No. Currently we’re going to go with five mechanics and we just wondered what the best or most efficient way of scheduling them would be.
UNION: If you’re considering an alternate shift agreement then there’s a process to be followed, as per the collective agreement. Your queries had them up in arms that the junior guy would be forced to work weekends.
MANAGEMENT: We’ll be clearer with them next time. We were only trying to see if there was a better fit. If there’s a win-win, we’d like to look at it.

10. Hiring? -
UNION: Are we hiring?
MANAGEMENT: Yes, we need at least four full-time workers. We’ll be interviewing two this week.

11. Vacation Pay entitlement and payout -
UNION: We’ve had some questions on the Vacation pay for next year because of the frequent layoffs. When do you calculate eligible hours for our vacation pay? From anniversary date or calendar year?
MANAGEMENT: It is the calendar year, from the last pay in December to the last pay in December of the next year.
UNION: We’re asking about being eligible for the greater of weeks of vacation or percentage of earnings. The contract states 1500 hours worked in the first year and 1000 hours every year there after to be eligible. There are some that say they’re not going to get a thousand hours this year and then they will get the lesser of the two. We’re also wondering about the bump in vacation pay employees get when they pass their anniversary date and their holiday entitlement goes up.
MANAGEMENT: It’s calendar year so if we run for the rest of the year it should be October-November for most everyone to get their 1000 hours. With the bump when a worker reaches a raise year in their percentage the difference is credited to them in their holiday account. It’s a two percent raise based on their earnings for the year up to that date that is in their vacation account.

12. Clarification of stats for Alternate Shift Schedules -
UNION: We need to clarify the stats for the weekend schedules. When the Stat falls on their regular days (Fri-Sat-Sun; Sat-Sun-Mon; depending on the schedule), they get that day off with their regular pay for that day. If it falls on any other day they get 8 hours pay on top of their regular hours.
MANAGEMENT: That’s correct.

13. Smoking Policy -
MANAGEMENT: We’re reminding you that our company-wide smoking policy goes into effect October 1. On that date all Tembec operations will be smoke-free (including smokeless tobacco). Those wanting to smoke will have to leave the property.
UNION: So smokers will now have to go across the tracks?
UNION: We don’t agree with it and think the current policy is fine the way it is. You’re causing more headaches with this new policy.
MANAGEMENT: It is a directive from Corporate.

14. Training Issue-
MANAGEMENT: We have a question about training. When does a worker give up his current spare after they’ve started a new training position?
UNION: It would be after he’s accepted the spare.
MANAGEMENT: So only after he’s accepted the training?
UNION: We think it would be after he’s deemed competent.
MANAGEMENT: We don’t think so. That would create even more of a logjam of training than there is. We think it should be after a person accepts the training.
UNION: Each candidate should get a chance to observe the job to see if they want it.

Next meeting: September 24, 2009 (Tentative)
Meeting Notes by Jeff Bromley, Elko Plant Committee Vice-Chair, Steelworkers 1-405.

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