Monday, May 30, 2011

Union Management Meeting - May 26, 2011

Union Committee Present: Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Bryan Gaudet, Tom Molenaar, Doug Wood.

Management Present: Roland K, Ian L, Dave P.

Meeting commenced 3:20 P.M


Company Update
MANAGEMENT: How was the poll at the planer regarding working four ten hour shifts?
UNION: People are concerned about the long term operation of the planer on this schedule.
MANAGEMENT: That would only happen if we get plenty of money to upgrade our planer to a high speed operation. Our current planer needs to run 3 shifts to keep up to normal mill production.
UNION: When are you looking to reduce the planer to two shifts?
MANAGEMENT: Possibly June 6, but will decide week by week. We want to push the date for two shifts at the planer as far down the road as possible.
UNION: We are worried some people might leave because of this lay-off.
MANAGEMENT: Chances are most people will stay working and not get laid off, plus we are certain of the return of the third shift at the planer.
UNION: What about voluntary lay-offs? Will you assist workers in this? There are rules on this.
MANAGEMENT: We won’t let senior people take voluntary lay-off. There will be only 12 extra guys because of the planer shift reduction. We will stick to the rules on voluntary lay-off.
UNION: Will you commit to training during this shift reduction, and for sure do long standing training?
MANAGEMENT: Let’s get a list of the longest standing training that needs to be done.
UNION: The log inventory looks poor at this time.
MANAGEMENT: FRM can keep us in logs to keep operating, but is just won’t be the usual percent of white wood for now.
UNION: How do the red wood chips affect the pulp mill, since they usually don’t want much red?
MANAGEMENT: They will have to take it. They currently have a shortage of red chips.
UNION: With the log inventory running low, guys working here see a chance of running out of wood, so you won’t be getting their best performance. Why don’t you make sure your spring time log inventory is at a higher level, to ensure efficient operation of the mill? It must cost you extra money to run out of logs.
MANAGEMENT: We have asked for more log inventory (cash on the ground) for our spring buffer to keep the mill running at a more consistent level. Unfortunately the cash squeeze put us here where the mill looses the efficiencies of a high log inventory.
MANAGEMENT: Our new Production Superintendent, Shaun F., starts June 20 and will begin by learning the logyard for the first few weeks here in Elko.

Safety Talks
UNION: What about the “start of shift safety talks.” Are they helping?
MANAGEMENT: We never heard so much discussion on Safety at this plant. Some say we are taking away from production, but we will do whatever it takes to improve safety here. Sometimes these meetings get off track from where we want to say, “Start the day safe and work safe.” We will continue to start shifts with these “safety first” meetings.

Safety Awards
UNION: You have indicated there is money for some sort of safety award, but nothing in place as yet. The formula devised is based on first quartile safety performance via a complicated formula we don’t understand. This committee and the Safety Committee don’t know anything about this formula, and won’t get involved. That will be your job to implement such a program.

Poyry Performance Improvement Project
MANAGEMENT: We are gaining what we can from this project – it is a project about the right way to do business. When we start to put money into the mill, from this project we will have a lot of information, training, and preventative maintenance already in place to do our upgrades right. This project will be going until the end of August. The big thing about Poyry is systems controls.
UNION: The “action plans” tend to do finger pointing. For example, the how the sawmill forklift stacks loads, and must straighten out the yard. We are concerned about harassment against one job. All forklifts should be held to account on these matters.
MANAGEMENT: Yes, all forklifts collectively look after the yard. But every operator must participate individually if he knocks something out of place by fixing it. The idea from Poyry is to collaborate on problems that are identified.

Upgrades for the Elko Sawmill
MANAGEMENT: This is speculation right now. The biggest thing is improvements to the log deck and log supplies. Right now productivity is down and costs are up. We are looking at a proposal of $1-2 million to upgrade the log deck, the waste system, and the debarkers. If we get this upgrade approved, there is possibility of some down time. This request was expedited – could be this fall.

Summer Casuals
UNION: We have an issue with summer casuals that are hired only for the planer, and staying only at the planer. Manning may require workers at the mill, and you can’t force senior workers to go to mill entry jobs at the mill just because these summer casuals are trained for only the planer entry jobs.

MANAGEMENT: Our other option is don’t call these casual guys in for vacation relief back up. We put these casuals at the planer because it’s easier to train there and they don’t need to train on a lot of jobs there. It takes a lot of time to train on all the usual six mill entry jobs plant wide.
UNION: We suggest train them for only a single job at the mill and a single job at the planer.

Water Truck Posting
MANAGEMENT: We may put a third scaler on here, since Ken H. will be spending some of his time in the bush. Eric D. is working on this right now, and the water truck will run with the sawmill day shift and afternoon shift schedule.
UNION: Just make sure you don’t leave Friday afternoon shift in the lurch, with no water truck.
MANAGEMENT: Dave P. is looking at yard sprinkling systems around the planer.

Oiler Posting
MANAGEMENT: Ryan M. will be awarded the oiler posting. He starts next week.

Apprenticeships at Elko
MANAGEMENT: All we can do is budget for them. We have three apprenticeships in the budget – Electrician, Millwright, and Planerman. Additionally we are looking to hire a heavy duty mechanic and a millwright.
UNION: We had some trades people nearly fall asleep at the vote in the hall, which tells us what kind of hours you are working them. Some electricians have worked 16 hours after a 10 hour shift. We are walking a fine line for safety with all the over time being asked of your trades people, and your workers too. Some are working the over time because they know the pinch you are in, and don’t want to let you and other workers down.
– Additionally, bringing in electrical contractors is pissing your guys off.
– If you can throw some bonus towards your tradesmen to keep here, that would help.
– Even for the crews we should make it better within our workplace, for example, get the lunchrooms TV going for the playoffs. There are little things you can do that don’t cost much.

Log Processor in the Elko Yard
UNION: We are putting you guys on notice that we are not going to sign anymore agreements for the log processor in Elko. This log processor is non-union and is not supervised. It’s a slap in the face to keep this contractor here when you said it would only be temporary. The Committee wanted to help but is tired of taking flack for having a contractor working on site doing work we should be doing.
Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405

Next Meeting: not discussed

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