Monday, January 30, 2012

Union Management Meeting, January 26, 2012

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

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

Meeting commenced 3:00 P.M.


Burns Lake Fund Payroll Deduction
UNION: Can you set up a payroll deduction for those wanting to donate to help with the terrible explosion that happened at the Babine sawmill in Burns Lake?
MANAGEMENT: We will look into it.

Company Update
MANAGEMENT: We don’t know what the Canfor organization chart is like. Currently, Dave P. is not going back to run the planer. We have already met with some Canfor people, but not given much information on how they will run things. Canfor’s senior Human Relations person will be here next week, on Feb. 1 and more Canfor people here on the week of Feb. 20.
UNION: What about Tembec current sales? It looks like the amount of wood moving from Elko has spiked.
MANAGEMENT: Sales are normal for this time of year, but increased movement over what we saw for December because that month had all the holiday time.
UNION: Have you noticed the increase purchase of boots by your workers?
MANAGEMENT: We are continuing with our boot policy, which is ½ pay for a pair in the spring, and ½ pay for a pair in the fall – only two pair per year. The new boots must be looked at and approved by your supervisor.
UNION: Will Canfor give us notice if they change company policy?
MANAGEMENT: They are required to take us as is, as far as we know, in the transition. They can set policy aside or change policy once they are in control.
Parking Issue
UNION: We have seen the report on our parking lots from WorkSafe with a long list of parking lot improvements on it. What is your time line to follow up on this list of improvements? Do you have problems with workers not backing in?
MANAGEMENT: We do have problems with people not backing in to their parking stalls. As for the list, they are only recommendations, not work orders. There is a list that requires work to be done in 21 days, and these items need to be dealt with.
UNION: Still, some workers feel it is unsafe to back into a parking stall.
MANAGEMENT: That’s why we brought in WorkSafe to make that determination. It is safe to back into parking stalls. This “back-in” policy comes from corporate office, and must be followed.
UNION: It seems like the higher up these policies are made and the further from workers, the less sense they make to workers. Some workers have real problems with backing in. Let’s make sure you have some “pull through” parking in each parking lot to accommodate these workers.
Oil Mist Inside Elko Sawmill
MANAGEMENT: We have some semi-firm dates for the suction system on the 8” VDA with “make-up” air. We are looking at the end of February to mid-March. We will then go to phase 2. We have a lot of the material needed on site for use in this project. We suspect Canfor will want to deal with whatever we are suspending in the air inside the mill.
UNION: Why are you exhausting only over the 8” VDA machine centre?
MANAGEMENT: Because 2/3 of the smoke, etc., comes from this machine.
UNION: At the Safety Committee meeting yesterday, the WCB presented information on the explosive nature of wood dust. We understand a sub-committee was created to tackle this issue on our work site.
-If the Burns Lake mill was found to have a significant dust problem that resulted in the explosions, it’s going to put the whole forest industry on notice.
The Contractor Processor Future on site
MANAGEMENT: This machine is done cutting on site. The contractor will be removing it soon.
UNION: We did accomplish the training as per our signed agreement on the contractor’s log processor. George P. is now competent to operate that machine because of the training in the agreement.
MANAGEMENT: We did not want only competency, but also proficiency, since the log processor contractor needs to make money.
UNION: We have competent and very capable workers on this site who can operate that machine as good as the contractor. They include George P, Trevor H, and Rob W.
MANAGEMENT: The intent is not to have the contractor log processor in here again. The Letter will be cancelled.
Overtime Policy Changes
MANAGEMENT: We want an Overtime Policy that will be common to Elko, Canal Flats and Cranbrook operations. We present you with our revised OT policy and we want feedback by February 8.
UNION: We will table this matter and look to schedule a meeting on this February 8.
Recording Camera Policy
MANAGEMENT: Weyerhaeuser has cameras throughout their Princeton Sawmill operation to record machinery operating. They want cameras to watch the log, not the operators. But policy doesn’t say they won’t use what is recorded on camera for discipline purposes if a worker throws a wrench into the equipment. The IFLRA met with the Interior Local Unions and the question arose where privacy kicks in and where does the right to run the business come in. The union is saying they will grieve because of privacy laws if a camera is used for discipline.

Three Lumber Graders
UNION: We need to have three lumber graders in rotation at the planer, not just two grading inside. The reasons are twofold: First is because we produce J-grade and graders need to check grade the J-grade production at the stacker to ensure quality, and second is because we have a couple of lumber graders with diabetes that require exercise throughout the day, and the rotation of the grader to the bins every two hours provides them much needed exercise on the job.
-A week ago, we had no extra lumber grader, and the relief supervisor check graded ten loads of the production J-grade himself at the planer stacker. This is not acceptable to us, and we must provide for qualified union workers to do this production work. Brett O. helped to resolve this issue by agreeing to pay qualified workers lumber graders rate if lumber graders are unavailable for overtime.
MANAGEMENT: We think supervisors’ looking at lumber at the planer stacker is acceptable quality control work, and they can go through the J-grade at the stacker.
UNION: Checking 10 loads of J-grade at the stacker is not quality control work. Grading lumber for final shipment is bargaining unit work. If supervisors do our work, we will grieve it.
MANAGEMENT: We don’t want our supervisors not doing their job because they have to go through ten loads at the stacker. Our intent is to have three lumber graders in rotation.
Smoking Accusations / Failure to Have Job Steward Representation
UNION: One maintenance supervisor threatened discipline and did not call a Job Steward for the meeting with the union worker, but called in another worker as a witness instead. The Collective Agreement is clear that during discipline a Job Steward must be present.
-Additionally when Mike M. called in a worker for “smoking weed” this new worker did not have a union representative. You should have a Job Steward attend these meetings with workers.
-The sawmill crew was extremely “worked up” about this false accusation by the Supervisor. Your investigation proved the accusation wrong.
MANAGEMENT: We have every right to investigate without having a Job Steward present. Nothing says we need a Job Steward for this.
UNION: It is past practise in this operation to have a Job Steward in attendance at serious meetings with supervisors. We are going to tell our members to request a Job Steward when called in for such meetings.
Internet in Lunchrooms
MANAGEMENT: We will follow up on providing internet access to lunchrooms with our I.T. person. This will be for Tembec presentations only, and maybe hockey scores.

MANAGEMENT: Currently we don’t need a 3rd carpenter going forward and will post the position as a temporary carpenter position to June 30th. We will see if we need extra work done at that date.
UNION: In the past you brought in contractors to do extra work and we don’t want to see contractors brought in when you have qualified carpenter personnel on site.
MANAGEMENT: We don’t need 3 oilers. We had 3 because of training and that will come to an end.
UNION: You work with 3 right now, and for quite some time. Tom G, we think you are being given stories. 3 oilers is the norm.
MANAGEMENT: I will speak to Lloyd to see when we will return from 3 to 2 oilers.

Dry Kiln Chargehand
UNION: Why is Dean Z. as Chargehand working Friday overtime when there is no overtime for Chargehand work or for Relief Supervisor work?
MANAGEMENT: No one is competent to do this work other than him.
UNION: Since a Chargehand is a union job, how does one become competent at the work in question, and what is he doing anyways?
MANAGEMENT: He is doing computer work and paper work.
UNION: Then that is Relief Supervisor work and we will have to charge him days as such.
MANAGEMENT: We have no problem with that if that’s the case.

Mobile Equipment Locker Room
MANAGEMENT: Some workers have moved a table and coffee maker into this newly constructed building by the garage. A decision must be made; this will either be a “dry” or a lunchroom, not both.
Notes to this meeting submitted by:
Ron Fisher
Secretary for the Elko Plant Committee
USW Local 1-405
· Next Meeting: February 29, 2012
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Safety message to upper management

TO TEMBEC: Troy and Dennis,

 I am writing this letter to inform you that the implementation of one safety policy and the sheer lack of following another is causing unrest within the workforce at Elko.

Last Summer a ‘Backing-in’ policy was instituted at the plant. Many workers did not like the policy but begrudgingly followed the rules. Others have raised legitimate concerns that have yet to be addressed.

At the same time management decided to erect walls around the 8” and 12” VDA and HDA’s in a vein attempt to contain the emissions from the breakdown machines. When it was brought up to management that the walls/containment was fixing one issue – the emissions to the Prime Sort operators – but creating another one, having the filers and other maintenance work in an around the machines within this enclosure in an environment with concentrated emissions, the construction was stopped.

 A meeting was convened on the latter about how best to deal with the emissions so that they were piped away from the worker’s environment. A cyclone system along with large extraction fans was decided upon as the best way to tackle the problem.

 To this date only the concrete footings have been poured and no monetary commitment has been made for the rest of the installation of the both the cyclone itself or the large extraction fans above the machines. There is no real target date for this to be completed and my many questions to management have produced no answers or commitments.

The parking lot on the other hand was tended to quite literally overnight. The parking bumpers were ordered and put in; signs were put up and voilĂ , we were that much more safer.

Except all backing-in parking policies throughout North America are clear that 90-degree backing-in policies are not the safest but rather one-way, 45-degree angle backing-in policies are by far the preferred option. This would of course cost some capital in the form of re-designing and expanding the Elko parking lots so that it was one-way and stalls marked and defined so as to promote angle backing-in.

Yet workers who bring up issues such as the above or safety issues such as the bumper spikes being pulled up from snow removal and exposed as a real tripping hazard; or the lack of lighting in various parking lots around the mill as well are threatened with discipline because they refuse to back-in.

To be quite honest, it was clear the company was more concerned with a very limited and perhaps even non-existent hazard outside the mill but not interested in dealing with or eliminating a very real one inside the mill. Backing-in, while perhaps a safer way of parking, is low-hanging fruit when it comes to safety. Much like wearing PPE from the parking lot or side-shields on safety glasses or forcing workers to rush in their vehicles to off-site locations to have a cigarette on their break, they are easy to implement and low-cost in comparison to emissions from the VDA and HDA; brutal dust emissions from the band saws that force workers to hold their breath as they walk by them; Sawmill roads that continually beat up on worker’s bodies as they ride across them in machines that break down or mobile equipment that must be fixed or even replaced but isn’t, to name only a few.

My point is this; you as upper management continually express the desire to meet or exceed safety standards within our industry or even as a multinational company as a whole, but by the same token it’s taken as window dressing or lip service to safety as a whole concerning real issues within the plant.

Safety isn’t easy but if you continue to tackle the easy or non-existent problems and delay or ignore the real ones because of cost or just a lack of real will, you’ll excuse the workforce if they question your credibility in this regard.

You leave the plant committee no choice but to defend our members to fullest extent possible if discipline is the path Management chooses rather than making a real and concerted effort to resolve the real issues.

Thank you,
Jeff Bromley
USW Elko Plant Committee Chair
USW Local 1-405 2nd Vice-President