Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Union Management Meeting - November 3, 2011

 Union Committee Present:  Jeff Bromley, Rick Boekestyn, Ron Fisher, Dave Tracey, Bryan Gaudet, Jason Cleland, Enzo Caccavo, Tom Molenaar.

Management Present:  Tom G, Dave P, Shaun F, Aurele B.

Meeting commenced 2:10 P.M.


 Company Update

MANAGEMENT:  The pulp mill is up and running normally.  Our saw mill is starting a recovery program.  We will have a chip reduction plan put in place to reduce chip inventory because of the extra pulp mill downtime that occurred after the its annual maintenance.  We will produce a little more lumber than chips.  It is not part of the plan to have downtime here because of the chip reduction plan.

       We want to let you know that two Tembec workers plus the pilot died in a helicopter crash on November 2, thirty miles out in rugged terrain near Kapuskasing, Ontario.  It is a sad loss for Tembec and we will fly the flag at half-mast in remembrance.

       Our quarterly results will be provided via company video on November 16.

UNION:  With our operation shut down during the week between Christmas and New Year, can the guys take vacation pay for the unpaid days from next year’s vacation pay (coming due on January 14)?

MANAGEMENT: Currently no, we will not pay from next year’s vacation pay.  Tom G. is looking into it further, and should things change, the Company will put out a memo.  Otherwise, the answer is no.

UNION:  There have been lots of higher officials touring our plant in Elko.  Why is that?

MANAGEMENT:  They are not touring around because Tembec is being sold.  You will see Troy H. around as he checks on mobile equipment, dust in the mills, Elko improvement projects, etc.  He will be talking to guys.  The intent is to improve communications.

       C.E.O. Jim L. says we are in the process of turning the corner, and we want to invest in specialty pulp because returns are high in that market.  The dimension market is not turning around, but we need to produce fibre for our pulp mill.  By 2014/15 we should start to realize the benefit of the pulp mill upgrade.

Saw Mill Third Shift

MANAGEMENT:  There are no plans for a trial yet.  We are working hard to improve recovery and not looking at closing the old R.T. Log Line yet. 

Log Processor LOU (Letter of Understanding)

UNION:  The Committee sees both the positive and the negative in your proposed LOU.  We feel, however, this processor could be replaced at a cost under $150,000.

MANAGEMENT:  Currently we can’t even come up with $70,000 to replace a fork lift.  The processor remains a stop gap until we redo the log deck, but don’t know when.  If we can get our log diet straightened out, we won’t need the processor.

UNION:   We have heard this for 3 years now.

MANAGEMENT:  In those 3 years we have now some approval for funding improvements.

UNION:   We were told that approved funds are for wear and tear only.

MANAGEMENT:  Some for that yes, but also there will be spending to get more logs through the buck saws.

UNION:   This is a union shop and we have an issue with a contractor on site.

MANAGEMENT:  We are going to have this contractor pay union dues as a term employee and the spare to operate his equipment will come from the union membership.

UNION:   It’s a step in the right direction.  We have agreed to sign the LOU.  In a year, we will bring this matter back in year 4.

       Recently you have not notified the Committee that contractors are on site.  You are required to inform us as part of the Collective Agreement.

MANAGEMENT:  We will talk to the Maintenance Department about this.

UNION:   What is the contractor doing filling the wells?  Why not use our water truck.

MANAGEMENT:  We are filling the ponds to capacity while work is being done on the wells.  Ours water truck is no longer road worthy, and is being sent away to be fixed.

Sort Machine – Two Shifts

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at this machine on 2 shifts.  We will have the spare fill in on the second shift to operate this machine.  It will be a trial for now.

UNION:   The spare is not to be used this way, but is only a fill-in when the posted operator is away.

MANAGEMENT:  We understand, and will eventually post another permanent.  We will know by the end of the year.


MANAGEMENT:  There will be no other apprenticeships at this time.

      We have had a long discussion with corporate people about retention and recruitment.  Too many of them are saying we are pissing our money away on apprenticeships.  They are even talking about hiring off shore.

      Locally we argued bringing on apprentices has a good impact on morale.  Our apprentices will be supported by local family and friends, and already have local housing.  We proposed our new apprentices at the 2nd and 4th year would get 4 months experience in the pulp mill to give some exposure to the world.

UNION:   Guys are seeing what is happening at our neighbouring mines, where apprentices are being paid $4 to $5 per hour over and above the agreed rate because the mines have been losing apprenticeships to the oil fields.

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at one apprentice to come from plant seniority, and one apprentice to come from the college pre-apprenticeship course.

UNION:   That concept is beyond the scope of our discussion here.  It has already been dealt with by our Local, and the answer was no.

Mobile Equipment

MANAGEMENT:  Troy H. was given a summary of mobile equipment that needs to be changed.  Lloyd will come up with a plan to get obtain equipment sooner rather than later.  We don’t need a huge mobile equipment bill in one year.  It was good to have Troy H. look at this.

UNION:   The stress level of mobile equipment operators is high because of the down time on this equipment, and the interactions with mechanics.

MANAGEMENT:  The Company will not accept frustrated equipment operators shouting at the mechanics, nor any workers shouting at other workers.  Respect must be retained in the workplace.

UNION:   We agree, but can see a problem in the garage where you have a big role placed on the charge hand there.  You need supervisory decisions made there and should re-instate the garage foreman.

MANAGEMENT:  We are looking at various ideas there.  In the meantime, we have to solve what is going on in the garage and get a respectful working relationship between workers.

·        Fork #259 is “tagged out” from production work.


Charge Hands Not Doing Their Regular Jobs

UNION:   Most of the work now being done by Charge Hands is everything but their regular posted jobs.  They are doing time sheets, vacation requests, ordering, and more administrative work that leave them with no time to do their own job.  The Collective Agreement defines a Charge Hand as a worker who has a regular full time job to do.

MANAGEMENT:  Every place is different as to what Charge Hands duties are.  Charge Hands are a real benefit to us.

UNION:   Of course they are a benefit to all, but some of what they are doing is Relief Supervisors duties.


MANAGEMENT:  We don’t want to get too restrictive on what our Charge Hands cannot do so that we would have to hire more staff to get the job done.  If there is work you think is not the percentage of his regular job, let us know when and where.

Planer Evacuation Drills

UNION:   All crews at the planer had a learning experience from the recent Evacuation/Fire drills conducted recently.  The supervisors are to be commended, especially with the excellent de-briefing sessions held afterward. 

Kiln Forks Being Used All Over the Plant

UNION:   Do you have enough spare Fork operators?

MANAGEMENT:  We are getting people trained as spares Fork operators.

UNION:   It seems that the Kiln Forks are being used all over the place, which eventually leads to work undone at the kiln, and results in the need for over time in that department.

MANAGEMENT:  We are trying to figure out why so many people are not on their regular or spare jobs.


UNION:   There should be a better effort to get spares to go to their spare jobs as needed.

MANAGEMENT:  Our spares list is not up to date and our spare program is not working.

      We are looking at a seniority list that will be easier for supervisors to use, where everyone will be assign a single number in order of seniority, so that comparing of seniority dates won’t have to be done.

Personal Work on Site

MANAGEMENT:  Tembec policy is that on Company property there will be no work done on your personal vehicle, equipment, or tools.  Additionally, no firewood will be taken from this site.

      This policy comes from those above us, but it is because there have been abuses of allowing this stuff to happen on our property.  We realize 95% of the people involved were good, but it is the 5% that abuse what we let happen, so we have to stop it all.

UNION:   We think we are being penalized here in Elko for some abuses that didn’t even happen here.  Besides, with regard to firewood, letting us take it home means you don’t have such a problem with the big burns you do every year, resulting in some workers leaving work for health reasons.

MANAGEMENT:  We will not burn on this site again.


UNION:   What about Banked Overtime for non-trades workers doing maintenance.

MANAGEMENT:  We will only bank overtime for tradespeople.

UNION:   A certain supervisor has denied vacation because he didn’t get 2 weeks’ notice.

MANAGEMENT:  We assume this supervisor would like 2 weeks’ notice.

UNION:   There is no provision for any notice for vacation requests.

UNION:   Guys who are backing their vehicles in want to have their extra-long extension cords you promised.



Notes to this meeting
Submitted by:  Ron Fisher, Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee, USW Local 1-405