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

Why Join a Union
Unions Make Lives Better for Workers
With a union, you can have a voice and respect at work, a real say in your pay and benefits, fairness, job security, and safer working conditions. The USW works with you to end unfair treatment, inconsistent rules, favouritism and intimidation. Working with the USW, you can make work safer, improve job satisfaction and pride in your workplace.
Without the protection, support and strength of a union, working people depend on the ‘goodwill' of management.

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