Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Union Management Meeting - January 27, 2011

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Dave Tracey, Reuben Blackwater, Bryan Gaudet.
Management Present: Roland K, Ian L, Dave P.
Meeting commenced 2:30 P.M.


Decision on Spare Grader Who Gave Up Training
MANAGEMENT: We are putting forward a compromise here. We do question why in the current Training Program a person giving up a training position, is barred for life from re-posting. In the new Job Training Program we would prefer to see a time frame put on it.
Our resolve to this matter is to allow Deb to bid on a new posting for Spare Lumber Grader.
UNION: What about the original posting. This individual’s seniority is not considered for the original posting, and that’s not right.
MANAGEMENT: Based on the Job Posting Supplement, we have correctly awarded the original posting to two candidates. After the training for both of these lumber grader candidates is underway, we will post for more spares, and Deb should get that posting. We can talk with Deb tomorrow about this.

Weekend O.T. Production Shift at Planer
MANAGEMENT: This overtime production shift will not go ahead. We are in good shape for inventory because we sent surplus to Canal Flats.
UNION: What are your plans for shipping lumber from Cranbrook?
MANAGEMENT: In the interim, due to the truck shortage, we are looking at 3 rail cars per week to ship out of Cranbrook to the coast. Some of that lumber is destined for Vancouver, and some for Asia. We are looking at the possibility of making Cranbrook a re-load point for rail. It would be cheaper than re-building the Elko spur line.

Over Time Policy
UNION: The suggested new provision in the over time policy creates departmental seniority. The message is clear from guys at the mill that they want a crack at any scheduled over time at the planer on their Friday day off. We suggest using a sign up sheet for this purpose.
MANAGEMENT: The problem is what if the scheduled over time is not known until Thursday, how do we get the right people for the job?
We will use a sign up sheet and see how it goes.


Company Update
MANAGEMENT: We have lost money this year and so has Canal Flats. We have over spent Year-To-Date. We are looking at improving the gap control at the R.T., improving the infeed at the Planer with automatic PLC controls that will adjust all speeds according to dimension and length.
We are getting an Electrical Supervisor.
UNION: We are concerned to hear we are loosing money considering the market price of lumber has increased a lot.
MANAGEMENT: There are other things that come into play, example, the cost of the Poyry Consultant Group is not in our budget.

Who Interviews New Hires
MANAGEMENT: Dave P. and Mike M. interview new hires along with Rick and Doug. When it comes to hiring management personnel, it depends on the position on who does the interviewing.
UNION: We have heard some people are hired as workers without going through the proper process, (application, reference check, resume.) The perception is if you are a friend of someone in management, you get hired. Since we have a procedure to determine who will be hired, let’s follow the process consistently.
MANAGEMENT: The idea of hiring friends isn’t going to happen. We get a good package of info from the new hires. Human Resources Dept. needs to do a better job for the mills. We need to hire one person at a time if needed, so the mills don’t suffer by running short. We will chat with Rick B. about our new idea of a new hire pool as we finalize our plans on it.

Log Inventory
MANAGEMENT: Our mill will have to do major work on our scale, or replace it. We are deciding quickly since ordering a new scale will need to be done at the beginning of March. We will use the four weeks normal downtime in April to do this work. We are low in log inventory, so will go week by week, with a small chance the mill could run out of logs. Under normal weather conditions, we will squeak through without running out of logs.

Job Evaluations – Who Does them for management at Elko
MANAGEMENT: Dave P. and our next mill maintenance superintendent will do these. At this time we have three candidates for the mill maintenance superintendent position.
UNION: There is an evaluated job at the garage you need to look at immediately. Contact Bryan.

Job Postings
UNION: Where are you posting vacant jobs?
MANAGEMENT: We post it at the log yard lunchroom, the garage, the kiln lunchroom, the shipping area, the scales, and at both planer and sawmill foremen’s offices, with a copy given to the union committee. Let us know if any of these spots get missed. Bids, however, are only accepted in the two bid boxes located at the planer foremen’s office and at the sawmill foremen’s office.
UNION: Results of Job Postings are to be posted showing the successful candidate, as per the agreement. Additionally, you can let people view the data sheet, on Elko Tembec computers, K drive, designed by Dave P. to show year to date job postings and results. Unfortunately, only the planer jobs are filled in on this list, and the sawmill jobs should be entered as well.
UNION: We are concerned the Job Posting Supplement is not understood by the people posting to jobs.

The Elko Job Posting Supplement is online on the Elko Echo Blog. Click on the link to the Supplement Agreements in the left sidebar.

Welder for the Conveyor Rebuild Project
MANAGEMENT: We had some discussion on this. It is possible we will post for a welder on this (certified or uncertified) and run them through an in-house test.
UNION: Will you replace the week day welder or use a condensed work week? We are concerned about those gaining hours in the trade.
MANAGEMENT: We want two millwrights working the condensed week and some welder working with them on conveyor repair and maintenance as required.
UNION: Will you post for a welder apprenticeship?
MANAGEMENT: We will never apprentice a welder.
UNION: OK then, will you approve Leave of Absence for our guys to get their basic welding training so they can do their hours here?
MANAGEMENT: No, we have some workers now who bring their training and hours with them.
UNION: That’s not fair to the guys here.
We want to see a copy of the condensed schedule you are talking about. The condensed week pool of workers has not been built back up as workers from there have moved on. Doug Wood will touch base with you on this.

Mechanics Scheduled Hours
UNION: Make sure the 8 hour schedule is followed for the mechanics.
MANAGEMENT: We will go through the proper process to change scheduled hours. Otherwise they will follow the 8 hour schedule.
UNION: Now you have no coverage for a mechanic on night shift. If those guys go into 10 hour shifts without following the process, we will be going after over time.

Shorts Trucked to Elko
MANAGEMENT: We have some info and pictures on the risks of hauling a shorts load and from the follow-up from FRM we are told we can fix either the species mix or the shorts mix.
UNION: How about the Sort Machine on Two Shifts because of shorts. With better sorting everything runs better.
MANAGEMENT: We might use summer daylight hours of the Letourneau shift, sorting species or shorts.

Mill Q.C. “chargehand” Days to be Counted
UNION and MANAGEMENT: This relief management position has 88 days times 8 hours. This works out to 70 ten hour shifts at the sawmill.

Grade Checking J-Grade Loads at Planer Stacker
UNION: It is understood all J-Grade loads of lumber must be grade checked at the stacker. This is bargaining unit work, and Supervisory staff is not to perform this work. Some supervisors relieve the lumber grader on the bins so the grader can do this grade check. Clearly that supervisor operating the bins is doing bargaining unit work.
MANAGEMENT: Do each and every load of J-Grade need to be looked at? We have the right to have supervisors check lumber from time to time as part of our quality control process, e.g., Poyry grade checks of lumber for statistical purposes.
UNION: We are not saying you can’t do that for quality control purposes, but we are saying if it is a requirement to grade check lumber for final shipment, that’s production work and belongs to the lumber graders, not supervisors. We suggest you schedule the clean-up worker at the planer to include in his rounds every two hours checking with the lumber grader on the bins to see if and when he needs to be replaced for checking the J-Grade.
MANAGEMENT: We will talk to the planer supervisors about this.

Weekend Blow-Down Job
MANAGEMENT: The two holders of this job should rotate their shifts, unless they work it out otherwise between them.

Duty to Accommodate
UNION: We understand the new W.C.B. motto is, “hurt at work, stay at work.” Some workers are critical of those working under this “Duty to Accommodate” guideline.
MANAGEMENT: Tembec policy is if we can provide meaningful work, then we will have that person work. Rob M. has a new Physical Assessment Sheet.
UNION: We need both the workers and the company to use the Ability Management Committee in cases where workers return to work with injuries and limitations.


Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
• Next Meeting: February 24, 2011.


Contract Update/Message from your Chairperson

Brothers and Sisters,

I know that as we enter the month of February – the 19th month without a contract from our employer – that the frustration is mounting among Elko’s USW Membership. Trust me, your frustration is being expressed many times by myself and your committee on your behalf to both management – who continues to slough off our message of frustration – and to the leaders of the Provincial Negotiating committee (PNC.) They have heard loud and clear that we are approaching the end of our patience.

The biggest question I get day-in and day-out is the obvious one; when are we taking a strike vote? Personally, I would’ve had one mid-January but I don’t make those calls. What the message I’ve been told is that the PNC has been trying its best to get the IFLRA (association that represents the industry in the Southern Interior) back to the table to agree to the pattern set up north and by several independents such as Canfor, West Fraser, The Coast, and so-on.

That hasn’t happened.

Recently there were developments that suggested the company could come back to the table but surgery/illness by their lead negotiator derailed that last week. The PNC is hopeful that over the next two weeks whether or not the company will come back to the table will be known and a decision will be made to take a strike vote.

As a membership we also must understand timing and as we get into the building season, demand for the product we make goes up as so does the price, giving us much more leverage. Any strike vote lasts only for 90 days and as such wouldn’t put us well into the spring if it were taken mid-January.

I will say this however; I have been told that if we go to a strike vote, the message to the IFLRA is that the pattern currently on the table might not be there any longer. We’ve bargained in good faith looking for the pattern deal set by the North, no more, no less, but going forward those demands will likely change if the company continues to rebuff our attempts at getting a deal and forcing our hand.

So, please, be patient – even more than you already have. The goal of the PNC is not to go on strike but to get a fair deal but it looks increasingly more and more that the company isn’t interested in that scenario. When and if the time comes be ready to vote yes to a strike, even if we don’t go on strike, it will give your Provincial Negotiating Committee the leverage needed to get a fair deal.

We’re all frustrated but don’t forget to let your supervisor or superintendent know of your frustration. It’s their bosses that are holding this up.

In solidarity,

Jeff Bromley
USW Elko Plant Chairperson
USW Local 1-405 3rd Vice-President.

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