Saturday, March 26, 2011

Elko USW Annual Sub-Local Meeting


USW Elko's Annual Sub-Local Meeting will be held
  • DATE: Sunday, March 27, 2011
  • LOCATION: The Local Union Hall boardroom at 201 - 105 9th Avenue South in Cranbrook, B.C.
  • TIME: 11 AM.
The meeting is open to all of Elko's members.

Election of Delegates and Submission of Resolutions to the Annual Delegated Meeting (A.D.M.) for USW Local 1-405.


United Steelworker members in the southern interior have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. After two weeks of balloting that covered the Thompson-Nicola, Okanagan, and Kootenay regions of the province, Steelworkers have voted 95% in favour of strike action. The Strike Vote was completed on March 24th and the Strike Vote results for our Local 1-405 was also 95%.

With this mandate, southern interior union members have put the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association on notice and said in a loud voice that enough-is-enough—the employer association has run out of time. The strong strike vote also provides the USW BC Interior Bargaining Committee with a powerful bargaining-table voice that will assist
them in concluding a fair and progressive agreement that has parity with union members in the northern interior.

Steelworkers intend to bring all of their outstanding issues to a timely resolve in upcoming bargaining. Negotiations between the USW and IFLRA are set to resume on March 30th in Kelowna.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Strong Strike Mandate is Needed to Send the IFLRA a Strong Message

Your BC Interior Bargaining Committee has had enough of the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association’s delay tactics. That’s why we are asking you - our members - to give us - your bargaining committee - a strong strike mandate when we meet again with the IFLRA on March 30, 2011.

The IFLRA still wants you to agree to a sub-standard collective agreement with concessions, when it knows full well that a pattern agreement –such as those achieved with Canfor, CONIFER and West Fraser – can be easily negotiated with our union.

Even with member companies West Fraser and Tolko – which reached agreements with our northern Interior Locals 1-424 and 1-425 – the IFLRA still wants concessions from USW Locals 1-405, 1-417 and 1-423. The IFLRA refuses to address the issues of working foremen, hours of work regarding alternate shift schedules, and health and safety language.

You have been more than patient with a bargaining process that has been pushed beyond reasonable limits by the IFLRA.

Your bargaining committee intends to bring all outstanding issues to the bargaining table with the IFLRA for a timely resolve.

We urge you to VOTE YES in favour of a strike if necessary - to strengthen our bargaining position.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Strike Vote for Elko Members on March 17, 2011

Notice of Vote

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Stan McMaster, USW Local 1-405 President, and Jeff Bromley, Elko Plant Chairperson will be there to conduct the vote for Elko Membership. Stan will provide information on the negotiations and take questions from the membership.

Members will be able to vote most of the day as the hall will be available as Nightshift comes off at the Planer (8AM) - the Maintenance crews, Sawmill shifts A and B, Logyard as well as the Kilns, Logyard and Mechanics will all be able to vote. Please allow extra time to vote either prior to your shift or after your shift. Your support is important!

For the weekend workers they will have to be there on Thursday as the Labour Code only allows one day for a vote at our site.

Remember, this doesn't mean that we are going on strike. A strong strike vote by our members gives our negotiating committee another tool in their efforts to get a contract.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Union Management Meeting - March 3, 2011

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

Meeting commenced 2:30 P.M.


Company Update
MANAGEMENT: Pulp is good but lumber is starting to drop in price. The last 4 months has been rough for both Elko and Canal Flats mills. The solid wood side of the company lost more than expected.
UNION: Why is this and what are you going to do about it?
MANAGEMENT: There are weather related issues, and the one day breakdown at the mill cost us. We are going to make sure the place has enough heat, better valves on the log decks, and play catch-up on maintenance.
-Electrical has a new electrician to welcome on board, which will help out a lot. Neal J. will continue to come in to help with electrical at the kilns. (Neal J. is on contract, a day here or a day there.)
We also have our former millwright Niels and our former electrician Kyle hired on as casuals to help out while they are off work from mine. Casuals are restricted to 18 hours per week.
-Regarding training for job postings, things are better as we have 10 people training now.
-Regarding Poyry, things are going in the right direction. We are getting better at tracking and using Key Performance Indicators (KPI.) We will have I.T. people here next week to install some of the tracking software and have the machine centers networked, etc.
-Regarding the Log Inventory, we are on budget and should be able to keep up. It looks like break-up in the bush will be either April 4 or April 11 and last up to 3 or 4 weeks. We won’t run Fir until the end of April.
UNION: How does the high Canadian dollar affect us?
MANAGEMENT: Selling wood to China gives us the floor price of lumber, while the overall capacity of the lumber producers (lots of mills starting up) puts the lid on the price of lumber. We forecast another year before anything substantial happens.

Emergency Provision of the Collective Agreement
UNION: We had a good discussion on this, and we don’t want this provision invoked all the time.
MANAGEMENT: We did our best to call guys out using seniority for available work, but just gave you notice just in case. This provision meant we did not allow bumping from the mill to the planer.

Vacation Policy needs Modification
UNION: We need to set up a Committee to review the Vacation Policy. There are issues that need to be addressed:
· One week takes precedent over one day
· Where do junior guys fit in who don’t belong to a crew
· Junior guys getting prime vacation time over middle seniority guys
· Number of workers to let go on vacation at one time
· Rule of allowing “five workers” have vacation at once must be balanced with not all five on same job
· Consistency in following vacation policy is important, not making deals at last minute.
We did the first pass at the end of January, but the 2nd pass can be done realistically at the end of February, instead of waiting until the end of March.
MANAGEMENT: We will plan a meeting to discuss this, say end of March, when Ian returns from vacation. The people who should meet are Ian, Dave, Rick, and Jeff.

Hiring Additional Workers – Important NOW
UNION: We are hearing that you hired five new workers recently.
MANAGEMENT: Yes, but only four of the five passed the testing.
UNION: Are you now going to have H.R. (Human Resources) managers at each mill?
MANAGEMENT: We have a position available at Canal Flats, which means in the future Roland will spend more time in Elko.
UNION: Do we have a call list? How many should be on the call list?
MANAGEMENT: Not at the moment because of the 10 or so people we are training. There should be 4 to 6 people on that call list. During the summer we will have a few casuals come on board.

Working Supervisors
UNION: This matter of the Planer Supervisor doing bargaining unit work has gone to grievance.
MANAGEMENT: It is never our intention to have our supervisors do bargaining unit work. He did his best to keep the planer running.
UNION: There is a line between what union work is and what supervisory work is. You need to be more creative in utilizing the union workforce to keep the place running. In this case, with the planer slowed down, the back end fork operator could have operated the bins alternating with his job until the call-in worker arrived. Instead you risk having on shift workers getting totally pissed off. And you kept the place running as normal, as though we don’t need to hire new workers. Why will upper management even take notice and allow us to hire more workers?
UNION: We want a stop to the mill supervisor Mike doing bins and re-man because of manpower shortages.
MANAGEMENT: Clearly we need to reduce our absenteeism.

Overtime Policy – Have you revised it?
MANAGEMENT: We will provide a sign up list for those interested and competent to do overtime at the planer if there is a need for Friday afternoon shift overtime.

Overtime Stopped Everywhere Except at Planer
UNION: We have concerns with contractors coming in, when our workers are prepared to do the work in house. Offer overtime to our maintenance workers first to get the job done.
MANAGEMENT: Yes, we do offer the maintenance workers the overtime first.
UNION: How about all the overtime being given out at the Planer?
MANAGEMENT: We have had to release guys to allow training to happen. This is what has caused the overtime at the Planer.

Not All Chargehands Rotating Shifts
MANAGEMENT: Brian C., Shayne W., etc. are Chargehands like at the garage, required to order parts, talk to suppliers, etc. so dayshift is needed in their cases.

Banked Overtime
UNION: We are hearing that some trades people won’t work much overtime if they can’t bank it.
MANAGEMENT: We will no longer bank overtime. Final.

Welder Posting
MANAGEMENT: Current candidates for this posting are Dale H., Steve D., and Mike H. We are looking for uncertified welder with a “C” level with testing to see if they are competent to weld. Some have tickets from a long time ago.
UNION: Make sure it is fair with seniority being the determining factor, competency considered. Don’t forget you have a workforce with many skills and tickets that you don’t even realize exists.

Electrician Apprentice
MANAGEMENT: Our current plan is to ask Dennis R. for funding of this apprenticeship in the 2012 budget for Elko.
UNION: What about other trades that will need apprenticeships to replace our aging trades people.
MANAGEMENT: We will deal with the electrician first.

Is This Company a Going Concern?
UNION: We see you have problems with replacing necessary workers here in this company on the plant level. You know you need new workers to start within the plant to fill vacancies, but you fail to hire them in a timely manner. You know you need more supervisory staff, but you fail to address that in a timely manner. You know you need for sure more trades people coming online to replace our aging trades people but you fail to post for apprenticeships. It brings us to the question, are you operating this business as a going concern, which is the main principle of all businesses. Or do you intend to fold this business and let all these areas where you require more workers fall to the wayside until we can no longer operate.
MANAGEMENT: We have hired some replacement staff, and are looking for more. We will hire more workers on the plant level as needed. As for apprenticeships, the company isn’t going to incur the costs of training apprenticeships until Dennis R. can see that the condition of the lumber market stabilizes to bring a steady income to Tembec.

¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶
In Remembrance of Joe Varosi
UNION and MANAGEMENT: Joe was well respected and did a good job here at Elko. Joe worked at the Elko Sawmill for 33 years. He will be missed by all of us. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his friends and family.
¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶ ¶

Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
· Next Meeting: not discussed.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Interior Bargaining Committee and IFLRA to Meet March 2, 2011

28 February 2011
KELOWNA, BC - The United Steelworkers Interior Bargaining Committee will be meeting with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA) on Wednesday here as it looks to kick-start stalled contract negotiations.

Talks broke off last November when the employer association tabled a revised set of proposals including concessions over a long-term contract.

"This time around we hope the IFLRA will be serious about bargaining a collective agreement," says USW Wood Council chair Bob Matters, the union's bargaining committee spokesperson. Sitting at the table with the IFLRA will also be Local 1-405 president Stan McMaster, Local 1-417 president Marty Gibbons and Local 1-423 president Bruce Gardner.

"The IFLRA is well-versed on the pattern agreement with Canfor, CONIFER with West Fraser (at two sawmills) and that it can reach an agreement with our union without much difficulty," says Matters.

Those pattern agreements include wage increases of 2 per cent in years three and four, additional seniority retention provisions, benefit improvements and wage rate adjustments for trades and power engineers.

Since contract talks began in May of 2009, there have been 14 overall days of talks with the IFLRA. Needless to say, while the union has inked collective agreements in the north and on the Coast of BC (with Western Forest Products, Forest Industrial Relations and "me-too employers"), southern Interior employers have put up barriers to a settlement. "The IFLRA has both Tolko and West Fraser and these employers have already settled with our union in the northern Interior," adds Matters. "There should be no hold on the talks with the IFLRA at all."

"In 2009 we told the IFLRA that it could get out front and be a leader in helping setting a pattern agreement for the Interior industry - instead they are following the pattern," says Matters. "Our members expect no less - although some IFLRA members companies have spent a good deal of time trying to convince our members they are not worthy of the pattern agreement."

source: Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chairperson