Sunday, October 31, 2010


The USW BC Interior Bargaining Committee and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) have finished a week of collective bargaining in Kelowna.

After five months of watching from the sidelines, the IFLRA signaled to the union that they were ready to resume talks and bargain the renewal of the southern interior master agreement that came to term in late June of last year. During the long pause in bargaining, the USW has moved their bargaining mandate forward in other regions and negotiated tentative agreements with CONIFER, Western Forest Products, Forest Industrial Relations, and West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd..

The BC Interior Bargaining Committee stands committed in their efforts to continue the pattern in the southern interior. But surprisingly, the USW Bargaining Committee found itself working even harder to steady the equality bar because it seems the IFLRA finds it acceptable for union members employed by IFLRA-member company southern interior operations—with roots in both BC interior regions—to be treated as second class citizens when compared to those in the northern interior. The IFLRA is insisting that they require an advantage over the northern interior and are holding back provisions that their member companies with operations in the north have not only knowingly accepted for their unionized employees, but were agreeable players in the northern interior bargaining table.

The USW is determined to fight this double-standard and win a fair contract for their southern interior union members. Bargaining with the IFLRA will resume on Monday, November 15th in Kelowna.

Source: USW BARGAINING BULLETIN #39 - October 29, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Union Management Meeting - October 13, 2010

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Dave Tracey.
Management Present: Roland K, Ian L, Brad J, Dave P.

Meeting commenced 2:40 P.M.


Company Update
MANAGEMENT: The three mills that made money for Tembec were Chapleau, Canal Flats, and Elko. Elko was the only mill to make a positive gain for the company, but not by much. Our Western group out here performed well - we were better than budget.
Going forward we don’t anticipate any shutdowns.
UNION: What about between Christmas and New Years?
MANAGEMENT: We don’t think a Christmas shutdown will happen this year. Running makes more sense than downtime as running currently reduces our losses here. If there were to be any downtime, it would depend on other factors, like chip supply, changes in market conditions, etc., so that would be a last minute type of decision.

MANAGEMENT: Jeremy S. is now the new Foreman on C Crew at the Planer, and Aurele B. is the new Foreman on B Crew at the Planer. They are long term Elko employees who will do a good job for us and continue their career here.
Additionally, we may have a new Maintenance Supervisor, and will know for sure by next week.
UNION: The concern from our point of view is that are you guys able to do your jobs properly with less supervisory manning.
Also looking at the tradesmen, we are loosing Dennis the electrician very soon, and in the future quite a few millwrights will be retiring in 3 to 5 years.
How much does Dennis R. realize you need more supervisory staff and more apprenticeships to keep this place running?
In fact, what about planermen, what are you going to do there?
MANAGEMENT: As for planermen, we could train guys for planer set-up, changing knives, etc. In the meantime, you (the Union) should look at the trades difference between the mill and the mines – it’s about a 30% higher package at the mine.
MANAGEMENT: Dennis R. has the legitimate fear of adding cost to Tembec without this company being in good and solid financial shape.
UNION: You are now at the point you cannot attract workers to Elko.
MANAGEMENT: Roland is spending 70% of his time recruiting staff. As for the trades, we are thinking about using uncertified tradesmen. What would you think about that?
UNION: We would have no issue with uncertified tradesmen, as long as you use seniority. Probably use the apprenticeship selection procedure to select the candidates.
MANAGEMENT: We will have to be creative in filling holes. We need to get Dennis R. and Jim L to see our needs. The biggest hole we will have will be in electrical, but the upside is a new Area Superintendent will come on board next week, and he will be responsible for big picture stuff in the electrical dept.
UNION: Tembec has hired a consulting firm, what’s that all about?
MANAGEMENT: Poyry Consultant Group has been hired, and they have worked with the forest industry for years with proven results.
They will be in Elko for the next few weeks to start, with staff and 8 or 9 hourly guys involved. Poyry will look at management systems that will be able to track data using their programming at all the mill centres. That will provide us will large amounts of data that we can break down into reports so we can use that information to drive projects.
Poyry are systems specialists and not people specialist. It is expected the pay back in the costs for their services will be in the six months range.

Sign-up Sheets Missing and some Jobs not Posted in All Areas
MANAGEMENT: Three job sign-up sheets have gone missing at the Planer in the last three months.
-We are going to implement what they do in Canal Flats, and have individuals sign up sheets placed by bidders into a locked bid box after both the bidder and foreman signs off on it. One box will be at the Planer office (looked after by Dave P.), and one at the Sawmill office (looked after by Mike M.)
UNION: Ron will collect the union copy of these postings at the planer and Jeff will do that at the mill.
-Some job postings were not put up at the scales nor at the garage.
MANAGEMENT: It was an oversight, and we will make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Elko Fire Hall
UNION: Can you tell us what the Company position is on the Elko Fire Hall project. There are members who work at this sawmill who live in Elko.
MANAGEMENT: Dennis R. complained that the process used by the R.D.E.K. was wrong by not providing the 3 biggest companies in the Elko area with information on the implementation of the amount taxes this project would levy on us. (These companies are Tembec, C.P.R., and A.N.G.) The tax level turned out to be substantially higher, over double what was expected, and this was found out late in the game.
Dennis R. expressed his displeasure to the B.C. Minister responsible, and the Minister got in touch with the R.D.E.K. telling them to revise their bylaw on this matter.
UNION: Would this Company support the Elko Fire Hall project if economic times were better?
MANAGEMENT: We spend lots of money on our own fire prevention. Our impression is the Elko Fire Hall service area boundary was extended to include the mill to obtain revenue from taxing us.
UNION: Would you not have a reduction of your insurance by being within this specific fire protection area?
MANAGEMENT: Not one dollar of insurance reduction will come our way. We are not willing to pay extra taxes, especially not at the level of 20% of the taxes for the entire project.
UNION: This Elko Fire Hall project will be part of the two other existing regional Fire Halls, one in Jaffray, and the other in Baynes Lake, and will, through the R.D.E.K., operate as a team with them. The benefits of coverage for the larger area are immeasurable, extending to individuals living well beyond Elko. Could you see Tembec taking a balanced approach on this issue and coming to a compromise on this matter?
MANAGEMENT: Dennis R. said he will talk to the R.D.E.K. on this matter.
UNION: It should be pointed out that Corporations, like Tembec, got their way in B.C. by having the provincial government impose the HST, which is a tax system that offloads corporate tax onto the backs of individuals. Now that you have that break, it is up to you to support taxes for projects like this fire hall.
MANAGEMENT: It is only because our costs go down that we can continue to operate.
UNION: In days gone by, C.F.I. was a big part in building the Canal Flats arena, and Cominco built facilities in Kimberley. Will you ever be part of community support again in the same way?
MANAGEMENT: Not to the same degree.

Probationary Employees Working Stat Holiday
UNION: You had two employees, who under the Alternate Shift Schedule gained 240 hours, so were full time probationary, and subject to provisions of “Paid Stat Holidays” in the Master Agreement.
MANAGEMENT: There was an incorrect reading of the Master Agreement. We will pay them properly.

Kiln Chargehand Shift Rotation
UNION: Your kiln Chargehand remains on steady dayshift. A Chargehand must be able to do his regular job, which includes shift rotation as a part of his regular job. We don’t mind him being on occasional steady dayshift to enable training, etc., but not on an ongoing basis.
MANAGEMENT: He has been doing computer work for us, and helping on the kiln project. He will return to his shift rotation in two weeks.
UNION: Are you rotating the kiln forklifts as per the Kiln Alternate Shift Schedule?
MANAGEMENT: We don’t always have enough forklift operators to do this.
UNION: Any changes to an Alternate Shift Schedule must have a letter signed off by the Union.
MANAGEMENT: We would like a letter regarding spares on the kiln forklift job during the week. We want to leave the weekend schedule for the kiln forklifts as is.
UNION: We will have to re-post the kiln forklift spares with the new hours.

Cliff C Relief Replacement
UNION: Chris C. is the spare for this Planer yard utility job and should be used while Cliff is off.
MANAGEMENT: We will look into how the relief work is being designated on this job. If truck loading is slow, then Ted and Gary can do Cliff’s job.

Contractors Supplies While at Elko
UNION: We as maintenance/janitorial workers have been asked by on site Contractors to provide fall restraints and other things. What is the Company’s responsibility to supply these Contractors?
MANAGEMENT: We will check on providing consumables, as this could be cheaper for us rather than it being costed to us by the Contractors. Things like fall restraints, extension cords, etc. should be returned to the Company when the Contractors finish using them.
UNION: Would you like us to keep a list?

Burn Upcoming at the Waste Dump
MANAGEMENT: We are looking at doing a burn at the waste dump starting November 10 through the 11th. We will be applying for the permit, and will proceed depending on the venting. When we are closer to that date, and we know for sure, we will issue a Plant wide Notice.

Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
· Next Meeting: November 25, 2010.