Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Union Management Meeting - December 21, 2010

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Ron Fisher, Enzo Caccavo.
Management Present: Roland K, Ian L, Brad J, Dave P.

Meeting commenced 2:00 P.M.
· Meeting started with the discussion about a former spare lumber grader wanting to re-post to that spare after giving up that training position prior to being deemed competent. Management refuses to yield to a mistake on the workers part here. Most workers are not aware of the rule that doesn’t allow this to happen, and we are faced with how we fix it so workers know the rules.


New Kiln Schedule Now Signed Off
UNION: The Kilns - Hours, schedule change. We cannot have a worker coming in different hours every day. Sometimes he starts at 2AM, sometimes regular, sometimes straight days. Which is it? When are the new hours to begin?
MANAGEMENT: The new hours will start in the New Year. Everyone should know the vote was 4 to 2 in favour of the new hours. The change is in using the weekly sawmill schedule, 4 tens, but the weekend schedule remains unchanged.
UNION: We know you have been short handed in the forklift jobs, so what are Dean’s hours as a chargehand? Using workers over and above the agreed to flexible schedule is overtime.
MANAGEMENT: The main reason is lack of manpower. We split the shift between two operators.
UNION: You can’t do that and allow a worker to set his own schedule which basically is negotiating as an individual. The union does not allow individuals to negotiate for themselves.
MANAGEMENT: Dean doesn’t come and go as he wants. It all depends on kiln scheduling when lumber is coming out dried.
UNION: We don’t want you to make a habit of Dean’s schedule being moved around.
MANAGEMENT: No, this is only happening due to seasonal holidays, and we leave room for mutual agreement, and only do minimal amount of re-scheduling for Dean. Once we get some spares, it will make a big difference.

*Attention Union Members: Your support for the negotiations with your employer is important. Your Interior Negotiating Committee is attempting to resolve a new labour agreement with the I.F.L.R.A, but will need your help in giving the Boss the message we are serious in obtaining the same agreement for us as was given to other parts of the Forest Industry in British Columbia.*


Company Update

MANAGEMENT: -The West Fraser forest company has a $230 million dollar improvement budget, and $150 million is for their sawmills alone. We aren’t there at that level today, but we are starting to look at improvements to our operations.
-Tembec is in the best position in the industry. Speciality pulp, which we produce, is taking off. There are improving prices in the solid wood market and the pulp market is holding.
-Tembec and Abitibi are the two companies to watch as their stock is currently undervalued.
-Second quarter could be our hottest because of overseas sales.

Weekend Overtime Shift at Planer
UNION: Will this overtime production still happen?
MANAGEMENT: We will see how dry inventory is and how the kilns run, etc. The extra production shifts are to be used for inventory control.
UNION: Could you put the planer maintenance on a different shift and work the planer production overtime on a Saturday day shift?
MANAGEMENT: The concept is to run the extra shift as a night shift flowing from the previous afternoon shift in a roll-over.
UNION: It’s your right to manage. Just a reminder, all production work on Saturday is time and a half, regardless of hours worked during the week.

New Job: Sander, Water Truck and Road Grader Trainee
UNION: Who got this job, as per your requirement to notify employees?
MANAGEMENT: We haven’t looked at it yet. We will look at it right after this meeting.
UNION: How did you determine the rate for this new job?
MANAGEMENT: We start with the water truck rate and go to the road grader rate. The stipulation is the successful candidate will have air brakes training. Later, this job will be evaluated.

Barko Head
UNION: When is the Barko Head going back on? - You have saved labour by not putting it back on but now the Log, Stop and Loaders on 1060 Deck are suffering lots of damage because operators have to push, bang, ram out broken chunks instead of picking them up.
MANAGEMENT: We are saving tons of maintenance time, reduced costs of loosing oil (filling the drum on Friday and it was empty on the following Tuesday). With no oil lost since the head was taken off, the production loss doesn’t offset the cost of oil and maintenance costs.
UNION: We think it is a safety issue with guys pulling and straining to tug logs.
MANAGEMENT: We could use this machine with choker lines.
UNION: It’s frustrating when we can’t use the grapple.
MANAGEMENT: On Fir runs there is no doubt we will need the grapple. But overall, maintenance costs are huge for this machine. It’s a machine that is not used in the industry anymore.

Job Postings
UNION: You will have to post another loader spare.
MANAGEMENT: We will post as manning allows it.

Status of Bobcat Job
UNION: What part of any job is it attached to?
MANAGEMENT: It’s not, it’s a utility job.

Electrical Department
MANAGEMENT: -Roland and I (Ian) are working hard on getting our apprenticeship.
-We understand an apprentice must not work on shift by himself for two years.
-Dennis used to hold the electrical permit for our mill, but now held by Bruce S., our regional Electrical Superintendent (FSR)
-Dennis W. comes back to work for us as a casual.
-We are looking at contracting electrical work for preventative maintenance o MCC’s and high voltage lighting.
-We really appreciate the extra work and time put in by Mark, Pierre and John.

Log Processor
UNION: When are you planning to install the new log “slasher” deck and get rid of the contract log processor?
MANAGEMENT: We are looking at presenting a package next year to H.O.
-The tilt hoist automation has been given tech change notice, and it’s going to be done 2011.

Attendance Improvement Program
MANAGEMENT: We have three workers on this program at the planer. It applies across the board fairly to all workers.

Resuming Payroll Deductions
MANAGEMENT: We will resume things like this to a certain degree, but only to the point where we have staff. Over the last while we have been close to where some staff has been close to burn out, so we need to be careful of what we can do.
-This company will have to run lean going ahead.

Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
· Next Meeting: January 27, 2011.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Regrettably the IFLRA is silent on the union’s proposals for a deal and instead is attempting to convince the USW members in the southern interior that they are unworthy of the pattern deal signed off in other parts of the Province.

This approach has both angered and united members. The Bargaining Committee has heard this message loud and clear at the meetings, site tours, or from concerned members
who contact the Union Halls directly.

Many offended union members are insisting the union immediately conduct a strike vote to demonstrate that the membership is not in any mood to continue tolerating IFLRA game playing—finding it an IFLRA charade when all other employers were able to sign off on this agreement without strike vote action. It’s really a fool’s game for the IFLRA continues to push their 3rd-rate substandard “final document” because in doing so, they are dismissing the already established industry pattern and all the remaining local union issues.

And should a strike vote be called, it’s important for members to remember that a strike vote provides your negotiating committee with a stronger mandate at the bargaining table. It also sends your employer a very clear message that you support your negotiating committee, and that you are serious about the demands you have made. The stronger your strike vote, the louder the message you send to your employer.

Unlike our southern interior union members, t h e IFLRA seems oblivious to the significant rise in lumber prices. In fact, there are indications that the trend in lumber prices will likely continue to rise. These increases will probably not sit well with company executives who look to the IFLRA leadership at times when production interruptions would not be welcome.

USW members have been extremely patient with the illogical IFLRA tactics and the upward trend in lumber prices does not bode well for their “worst financial crisis” strategy.

Even with all this IFLRA nonsense, the USW is ready to bargain. Tell your Supervisor that the IFLRA is risking labour unrest and literally “missing the boat” to China.

TURNING POINT—The IFLRA is unwilling to come to terms on the remaining items in an industry-wide pattern deal. Two companies within the IFLRA have agreed to the same pattern deal up north—their northern operations already enjoying the benefits of a new agreement. Surprisingly, these companies allow their southern operations to languish and suffer under the weight of IFLRA dithering.

The USW is becoming more impatient. Union members are both patient and realistic, and willing to support their Bargaining Committee over the long haul.

The IFLRA is silent and seems in disarray as they watch lumber prices rise—unable to deal with their own internal strife as their own people ramp up production in the north.

Source: USW BC Interior Bargaining - Turning Points, January 4, 2011