Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Union Management Meeting - December 20, 2011

Union Committee Present:  Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Enzo Caccavo, Tom Molenaar.

Management Present: Roland K, Tom G, Dave P, Shaun F.

Meeting commenced 2:40 P.M.

Company Update
MANAGEMENT:  On our safety performance we can say this mill is hurting less people than in the past.  In the month of November we had six first aid incidents.  Our reportable incident rate is 3.2, an improvement over previous years which was 8 and higher.  Our goal is to reach a 2.5 reportable incident rate.
UNION:  What about safety programs with Canfor?
MANAGEMENT:  Canfor recognizes safety a lot, but don’t reward workers much to the best of our knowledge from some of our staff who previously worked for Canfor.  Officially, to date, Canfor hasn’t said anything to us about this or their policies.
       -The purchase is continuing, and Canfor has been drilling on our site as part of a Phase 2 Environmental Audit.
       -Dennis R. and Troy H. are working on schedules to aid the transition of ownership.
       -The lumber market has picked up a bit, which is good news.  Housing starts in the U.S. are up about 9% with about 700,000 starts.
       -The premium for our TemPlus and M.S.R. grades are currently very good.
UNION:   We’ve heard that some Canfor mills don’t have “back in” parking policies, but do have designated smoking areas.  Also they don’t offer the ½ refund on the cost of safety work boots.
MANAGEMENT:  We understand Canfor will be talking to Elko management in February.

Processor Clarification and Processor Spare Posting
MANAGEMENT:  The successful spare for this job is George P.
UNION:   When will you be training him?
MANAGEMENT:  Our focus is to train another sort machine operator and spare.
UNION:   We want the spare processor operator started on his training.  You have other sort machine operators you can use out in the yard to allow George P. to train on the processor.
       -What are you going to do if you run out of shorts?
MANAGEMENT:  As of January we aren’t going to run shorts.  This will be a trial and we will continue to stockpile shorts just in case.
       -We will post for another full time sort machine operator in January.
UNION:   It seems like we negotiated a Letter of Understanding on the contractor’s log processing machine with very little results for us.  We understood a union guy will be on that job, even if as a spare, and now you don’t want to use that machine.  You may as well sort shorts in the bush again at a higher cost.
MANAGEMENT:  You did get the benefit of us paying union dues for the processor operator.
UNION:   That’s not what the guys see or are satisfied with.  Your worker union membership wants to see union workers on that job.
       -Let us know if the priority is to get the union worker on that job.  Should we cancel this agreement on the log processor?  If the committee does not see training begin within the two weeks allotted in the training supplement when we return in January then we'll consider this a violation of the agreement and take appropriate action, up to and including issuing cancellation notice and grieving to remove the contractor from our property, as per the collective agreement.  You need to get the agreed to spare in that machine!
       -How long is your trial run of not using shorts in the mill?
MANAGEMENT:  We don’t know how long it will be.  We will be working with F.R.M. to see how we can get the R.T. line supplied.
Consistency of Application of the Spare Program
UNION:  It looks like suddenly you are forcing guys to go to their spares, but only when it is convenient to you.  (If you let extra guys go on vacations, that’s all need to be said, and we will understand.)
MANAGEMENT:  We want actual examples of when this has happened.
UNION:   Our specific examples are jobs on the log deck and on the forklift.  We don’t have a problem with you being accommodating, but the issue is, don’t start writing workers up for not going to their spare jobs.  Instead, make sure you use the junior spare.
MANAGEMENT:  The Green Book (Job Training Program/Spare Job Agreement) is tough to make it work, both for the company and for workers.
Sort Machine – Two Shifts Hours of Work
MANAGEMENT:  Starting in the New Year, this machine will work sawmill alternate shift hours.
UNION:   Under the new contract, this newly arranged alternate shift schedule will have all stats paid out for 10 hours.  In January of 2013 our Sawmill alternate schedule will pay out 10 hours of pay for stats falling on rest days.
 Watchman Hours During the Christmas Shutdown
MANAGEMENT:  We need to cover Wednesday and Thursday.  Nobody qualified has signed the list for watchmen, so we are going to go “the senior qualified may but the junior qualified must” to fill the position needed.
UNION:   The junior qualified is laid off those two days, so you cannot force that worker into that job.
MANAGEMENT:  If need be we can use the 4 junior untrained workers who signed the list and train this week, or we may use qualified workers on overtime.
UNION:   Get back to us tomorrow to inform us of your decision.
Temporary Carpenter Job
UNION:   This temporary job is gone beyond the normal six months for a temporary posting.  You have the need and we want a permanent carpenter job posted.  If you find later on you will reduce back to two carpenters, the junior third bid holder would bump at the seniority level he is at, but also would be the incumbent should the need arise once more for a third carpenter.
MANAGEMENT:  We will look at it and get back to you.
Other Job Postings
UNION:   Job postings are getting caught up – this is good to see!!
MANAGEMENT:  We are trying to meter out the bids because of the build-up of training that will be needed all at once.
UNION:   We understand.  But with the oilers job, there are three positions – two full time and one spare, and the spare is being used all the time.  We suggest you have another full time oiler on a compressed weekend shift.
MANAGEMENT:  We will take a look at this suggestion with our Maintenance Supervisor when he returns in the New Year.
UNION:   Additionally, the Prime Sorts job shows as vacant, but has a requirement to be posted.
MANAGEMENT:  We understand, but we are looking at not posting jobs evaluated in Group 4 and lower instead of the current Group 2 and lower.
Supervisors Performing First Aid
UNION:   In the past, first aid performance by supervisors has had a rough time here at the Elko operation.  One supervisor in particular had his judgment clouded by wearing two hats, that of the supervisor and that of the first aid attendant when he looked after a worker with a ripped off thumbnail.  The worker subsequently went into shock, but the supervisor wouldn’t transport that worker home, and made him stay in the lunchroom until shift end.  You can imagine how this upset the crew once they found out.  Later on, this same supervisor wouldn’t allow any Elko sawmill first aid attendants on afternoon shift to go a serious motor vehicle accident near the Caithness trailer court because of concerns for operating the sawmill.  (This supervisor was let go.)
MANAGEMENT:  That was just one supervisor; most will be diligent in performing first aid.
UNION:   You can’t regulate good behavior, and one bad experience is enough to say no to supervisors wearing the two hats.  We have 22 union first aid attendants on site and they should perform first aid.  Let the supervisors supervise their crew.
MANAGEMENT:  We have reviewed this matter and the legalities allow supervisors to conduct first aid if they are so qualified.
UNION:   Be that as it may, but we believe there is a conflict of interest when qualified first aid attendants who are supervisors perform first aid on workers.
MANAGEMENT:  What you are saying doesn’t sit well with us; nonetheless, we would rather have a supervisor do his job and have first aid attendants do their job.
Planer Weekend Maintenance Helper Sign Up Sheet
UNION:   Let us have posted procedures for workers obtaining weekend work at the planer as maintenance helpers.
Sawmill Maintenance Workers Running  Logs Through Mill
UNION:  We understand you want to run a small number of logs through the sawmill to test equipment that was worked on during weekend maintenance.  Sawmill maintenance workers don’t feel comfortable running mill equipment they are not trained to operate.
MANAGEMENT:  We will train them properly, and don’t want them to operate any equipment if it can’t be done safely.
UNION:   We understand our new machinist has only done about 6 hours machinist work, and the rest of the time he has done millwright work.  Which one is he, a millwright or a machinist?
MANAGEMENT:  He is going to do both work.
Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
·        Next Meeting:  not discussed

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Province of BC Asks for Feedback on Backroads

Do you use B.C.'s resource roads for work, recreation, or because you live in or visit rual communities off the public road system? If so, help us serve you better by contributing to the Natural Resource Road Act Project to improve resource road laws and regulation for the benefit of all users.

With planned changes to the Natural Resource Road Act, the provincial government is turning to industry and other usergroups for feedback on backroads throughout B.C.

A website has been set up to gain feedback on the current state of resource roads and how permit applications and usage could improve.

Transportation and Northern Safety Director with the B.C. Forest Safety Council Rick Walters says a re-writing of the Act aims to streamline regulatory processes.

"The proposal here is to put the legislative requirements in acts and regulations under one roof so to speak," said Walters.

Walters says as it stands, permits and use requirements for resource roads fall under several different jurisdictions.

You can access the site at, http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/mof/nrra/

You are invited to voice your concerns and suggest solutions that will work for everyone. Comments will be accepted until December 15, 2011.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Union Management Meeting - November 3, 2011

 Union Committee Present:  Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Dave Tracey, Bryan Gaudet, Jason Cleland, Enzo Caccavo, Tom Molenaar.

Management Present:  Tom G, Dave P, Shaun F, Aurele B.

Meeting commenced 2:10 P.M.


 Company Update

MANAGEMENT:  The pulp mill is up and running normally.  Our saw mill is starting a recovery program.  We will have a chip reduction plan put in place to reduce chip inventory because of the extra pulp mill downtime that occurred after the its annual maintenance.  We will produce a little more lumber than chips.  It is not part of the plan to have downtime here because of the chip reduction plan.

       We want to let you know that two Tembec workers plus the pilot died in a helicopter crash on November 2, thirty miles out in rugged terrain near Kapuskasing, Ontario.  It is a sad loss for Tembec and we will fly the flag at half-mast in remembrance.

       Our quarterly results will be provided via company video on November 16.

UNION:  With our operation shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year, can the guys take vacation pay for the unpaid days from next year’s vacation pay (coming due on January 14)?

MANAGEMENT: Currently no, we will not pay from next year’s vacation pay.  Tom G. is looking into it further, and should things change, the Company will put out a memo.  Otherwise, the answer is no.

UNION:  There have been lots of higher officials touring our plant in Elko.  Why is that?

MANAGEMENT:  They are not touring around because Tembec is being sold.  You will see Troy H. around as he checks on mobile equipment, dust in the mills, Elko improvement projects, etc.  He will be talking to guys.  The intent is to improve communications.

       C.E.O. Jim L. says we are in the process of turning the corner, and we want to invest in specialty pulp because returns are high in that market.  The dimension market is not turning around, but we need to produce fibre for our pulp mill.  By 2014/15 we should start to realize the benefit of the pulp mill upgrade.

Saw Mill Third Shift

MANAGEMENT:  There are no plans for a trial yet.  We are working hard to improve recovery and not looking at closing the old R.T. Log Line yet. 

Log Processor LOU (Letter of Understanding)

UNION:  The Committee sees both the positive and the negative in your proposed LOU.  We feel, however, this processor could be replaced at a cost under $150,000.

MANAGEMENT:  Currently we can’t even come up with $70,000 to replace a fork lift.  The processor remains a stop gap until we redo the log deck, but don’t know when.  If we can get our log diet straightened out, we won’t need the processor.

UNION:   We have heard this for 3 years now.

MANAGEMENT:  In those 3 years we have now some approval for funding improvements.

UNION:   We were told that approved funds are for wear and tear only.

MANAGEMENT:  Some for that yes, but also there will be spending to get more logs through the buck saws.

UNION:   This is a union shop and we have an issue with a contractor on site.

MANAGEMENT:  We are going to have this contractor pay union dues as a term employee and the spare to operate his equipment will come from the union membership.

UNION:   It’s a step in the right direction.  We have agreed to sign the LOU.  In a year, we will bring this matter back in year 4.

       Recently you have not notified the Committee that contractors are on site.  You are required to inform us as part of the Collective Agreement.

MANAGEMENT:  We will talk to the Maintenance Department about this.

UNION:   What is the contractor doing filling the wells?  Why not use our water truck.

MANAGEMENT:  We are filling the ponds to capacity while work is being done on the wells.  Ours water truck is no longer road worthy, and is being sent away to be fixed.

Sort Machine – Two Shifts

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at this machine on 2 shifts.  We will have the spare fill in on the second shift to operate this machine.  It will be a trial for now.

UNION:   The spare is not to be used this way, but is only a fill-in when the posted operator is away.

MANAGEMENT:  We understand, and will eventually post another permanent.  We will know by the end of the year.


MANAGEMENT:  There will be no other apprenticeships at this time.

      We have had a long discussion with corporate people about retention and recruitment.  Too many of them are saying we are pissing our money away on apprenticeships.  They are even talking about hiring off shore.

      Locally we argued bringing on apprentices has a good impact on morale.  Our apprentices will be supported by local family and friends, and already have local housing.  We proposed our new apprentices at the 2nd and 4th year would get 4 months experience in the pulp mill to give some exposure to the world.

UNION:   Guys are seeing what is happening at our neighbouring mines, where apprentices are being paid $4 to $5 per hour over and above the agreed rate because the mines have been losing apprenticeships to the oil fields.

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at one apprentice to come from plant seniority, and one apprentice to come from the college pre-apprenticeship course.

UNION:   That concept is beyond the scope of our discussion here.  It has already been dealt with by our Local, and the answer was no.

Mobile Equipment

MANAGEMENT:  Troy H. was given a summary of mobile equipment that needs to be changed.  Lloyd will come up with a plan to get obtain equipment sooner rather than later.  We don’t need a huge mobile equipment bill in one year.  It was good to have Troy H. look at this.

UNION:   The stress level of mobile equipment operators is high because of the down time on this equipment, and the interactions with mechanics.

MANAGEMENT:  The Company will not accept frustrated equipment operators shouting at the mechanics, nor any workers shouting at other workers.  Respect must be retained in the workplace.

UNION:   We agree, but can see a problem in the garage where you have a big role placed on the charge hand there.  You need supervisory decisions made there and should re-instate the garage foreman.

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at various ideas there.  In the meantime, we have to solve what is going on in the garage and get a respectful working relationship between workers.

·        Fork #259 is “tagged out” from production work.


Charge Hands Not Doing Their Regular Jobs

UNION:   Most of the work now being done by Charge Hands is everything but their regular posted jobs.  They are doing time sheets, vacation requests, ordering, and more administrative work that leave them with no time to do their own job.  The Collective Agreement defines a Charge Hand as a worker who has a regular full time job to do.

MANAGEMENT:  Every place is different as to what Charge Hands duties are.  Charge Hands are a real benefit to us.

UNION:   Of course they are a benefit to all, but some of what they are doing is Relief Supervisors duties.


MANAGEMENT:  We don’t want to get too restrictive on what our Charge Hands cannot do so that we would have to hire more staff to get the job done.  If there is work you think is not the percentage of his regular job, let us know when and where.

Planer Evacuation Drills

UNION:   All crews at the planer had a learning experience from the recent Evacuation/Fire drills conducted recently.  The supervisors are to be commended, especially with the excellent de-briefing sessions held afterward. 

Kiln Forks Being Used All Over the Plant

UNION:   Do you have enough spare Fork operators?

MANAGEMENT:  We are getting people trained as spares Fork operators.

UNION:   It seems that the Kiln Forks are being used all over the place, which eventually leads to work undone at the kiln, and results in the need for over time in that department.

MANAGEMENT:  We are trying to figure out why so many people are not on their regular or spare jobs.


UNION:   There should be a better effort to get spares to go to their spare jobs as needed.

MANAGEMENT:  Our spares list is not up to date and our spare program is not working.

      We are looking at a seniority list that will be easier for supervisors to use, where everyone will be assign a single number in order of seniority, so that comparing of seniority dates won’t have to be done.

Personal Work on Site

MANAGEMENT:  Tembec policy is that on Company property there will be no work done on your personal vehicle, equipment, or tools.  Additionally, no firewood will be taken from this site.

      This policy comes from those above us, but it is because there have been abuses of allowing this stuff to happen on our property.  We realize 95% of the people involved were good, but it is the 5% that abuse what we let happen, so we have to stop it all.

UNION:   We think we are being penalized here in Elko for some abuses that didn’t even happen here.  Besides, with regard to firewood, letting us take it home means you don’t have such a problem with the big burns you do every year, resulting in some workers leaving work for health reasons.

MANAGEMENT:  We will not burn on this site again.


UNION:   What about Banked Overtime for non-trades workers doing maintenance.

MANAGEMENT:  We will only bank overtime for tradespeople.

UNION:   A certain supervisor has denied vacation because he didn’t get 2 weeks’ notice.

MANAGEMENT:  We assume this supervisor would like 2 weeks’ notice.

UNION:   There is no provision for any notice for vacation requests.

UNION:   Guys who are backing their vehicles in want to have their extra-long extension cords you promised.



Notes to this meeting
Submitted by:  Ron Fisher, Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee, USW Local 1-405

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Union Management Meeting, September 29, 2011

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Dave Tracey, Bryan Gaudet.

Management Present: Roland K, Tom G, Dave P, Shaun F.

Meeting commenced 2:10 P.M.


Elko Is A Good Place to Work
UNION: We are glad to hear this comment at the last meeting from you and we agree with saying, “Elko is a good place to work.” We all need to have a positive outlook on our jobs and our workplace.

K.P.I. Job
MANAGEMENT: We are not prepared to post this job or implement a set procedure for it at this time.
UNION: What is the timeline for posting? This job has been running for 3 months so far.
MANAGEMENT: We have inconsistencies in manning this position. We need to put together a plan with supervisors input. We have no solid timeline in next couple of months. Ideally the K.P.I. (Key Performance Indicators) reports should get done at the work stations.

MANAGEMENT: M & K Heating have been on site to ensure the gas heaters are working. We are also looking at roof fans in the mill to exhaust air with using heated “make-up” air.
UNION: Where we had the mill fire is of concern if it gets cold.
MANAGEMENT: We should have a plan on that area, and then we will get back to you.


Company Update
MANAGEMENT: The pulp mill shutdown is not going well right now. We have heard they will be up and running next week.
We are in a good position here with our mill net being better than August. Recovery is up also, and production is trending upward while spending remains the same. Currently our position is good as we are close to break even.
UNION: How does the lower CDN dollar help?
MANAGEMENT: Pulp has gone down so the lower CDN dollar helps a lot.
UNION: We understand the tilt hoist automation project is not going well at Canal Flats.
MANAGEMENT: True and it gives the Company hesitation. The Canal project is different than the Elko project, but we will push our tilt hoist project back to November at least.
UNION: Do you foresee any downtime to do this in Elko?
MANAGEMENT: We believe the long weekend in November should be enough time to do this upgrade.

Alternate/Weekend Shift at the Sawmill
MANAGEMENT: We have a 20 year old large log line that doesn’t do a very good job processing logs when it comes to efficiency. Gord D. has done the studies which show we gain EBITA by shutting down this poor line, or run it intermittently. Dennis R. remains cautious about taking this step.
We will do a trial run on Fir next week, and hopefully show good production numbers. If it’s a flop, we won’t carry the trial to SPF.
We are looking at manning a replacement shift on the small log line. There would be 3 shifts for the small line – two 10 hour shifts, 4 days a week plus one alternate weekend shift for Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We will go through your local union to negotiate the alternate shift.
UNION: Are you not afraid that weekend work will cause you to lose tradespeople who came here to work 5 days a week with weekends off?
MANAGEMENT: It is possible we could have only 3 tradespeople for this weekend crew.
If we need to hire trades for this, we might. We understand most trades want the alternate weekend shift ahead of five 8 hour shifts that would rotate them into working night shifts.
UNION: Some are concerned reducing a line is similar to what happened in Cranbrook before it shut down.
MANAGEMENT: The Company does have options. It can build one new big mill, or it can upgrade the old large log line, or it can run with the one small log line in a manner that will make us more money.
Running “as is” is not an option and it makes this mill inefficient. We know of only 3 reducer twin lines running period. And Tembec has two of them.
UNION: Can you update us on a regular basis as to what you decide to do.
MANAGEMENT: No decision will be made until after the trial runs at the mill. We will keep you informed.

Training New Employees
UNION: We wonder if it isn’t best to have newly hired employees remain for longer periods of time at one area of the plant to become more familiar with that area before you move them to train in other areas of the sawmill/planer complex. This would increase the safety factor for these workers since putting new workers in constantly changing work environments with unfamiliar work routines and unfamiliar equipment comes with a safety risk.
MANAGEMENT: We require a training evaluation process to be done at various jobs. Additionally proper lock-out procedure must be followed through on all these jobs ending with the worker performing a test of the equipment he/she locked-out.
UNION and MANAGEMENT: Workers are hired to work both at the mill and the planer, and need to be trained in both areas so they can move into available work in each area. After the new hires are given 10 days work experience at the sawmill and 10 days work experience at the planer, the new workers are not trained workers and will require further training to be qualified.
UNION: Will you select experienced qualified operators to do the training instead of whoever is on the job?
MANAGEMENT: This might not happen 100% of the time but it is our goal.
UNION: The Prime Sort job needs to be looked at. There hasn’t been a posted operator on that job for around 7 years. Yet the amount of training on that job is important considering the critical decision the Prime Sort operators have to make that affects the final quality of our lumber.

Committee Access to Job Postings
MANAGEMENT: Tom G. now has access to K Drive. We have asked I.T. to have Roland’s old computer set up for the Plant Chair to access K Drive on a “read only” basis.
We are intending to post our weekly manning lists earlier at the mill and the planer so guys can see it and this also helps us out in sorting out the manning. The guys can bring any manning problems to our attention.

Log Processor
MANAGEMENT: We have met with the log processor owner and have an agreement for a new contract with him. His operator will pay union dues. We will talk with the Local and the Committee about a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on this, but for now we need an extension to our agreement with you on the processor.
UNION: We would prefer it was one of our members operating that equipment. How long will it be before you are prepared to sign a Letter of Understanding on this?
MANAGEMENT: We should be able to sign by the end of October.
Company Positions Vacant
MANAGEMENT: The Health, Safety and Environment staff position in Canal Flats is now posted. Once it is filled, Rob M. will be here in Elko in that capacity full time.
We have posted for a Process Engineer to replace Eric D.

UNION: Will you post the mill nightshift Stacker/Clean-up job?
MANAGEMENT: We will post it soon.
UNION: Now what about posting for a mill nightshift Forklift operator too? Pulling the kiln forklift operator all over the place just puts him behind on his work in the kilns.
MANAGEMENT: We should ask the mill fork to stay over. But manning to clear out the mill will be a day by day decision. If you have time to help from the kilns that would be good.
UNION and MANAGEMENT: Rate of pay for Relief Supervisors will remain outside of the scope of discussion at a Union Management Meeting.

There have been 34 jobs evaluated at the Elko workplace. Results show most jobs have no significant changes and those evaluated with changes will be release in the near future. The Serviceman was not included in job evaluations. The Local and Committee is about to begin negotiations on the Serviceman position at the Mechanics Shop for a better rate.
Notes to this meeting submitted by: 
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee,
USW Local 1-405

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