The North Island’s loggers just gained another five years of job certainty.
United Steelworkers Locals 1-1937 and 1-85 announced last week a five-year collective agreement with Western Forest Products Inc. and the “Me Too” Companies. The contract was ratified July 31 by the Membership of the two Local Unions in meetings held in Woss, Holberg, Beaver Cove, Port Alice, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and other Vancouver Island communities.
The Membership voted by an 84% majority to accept the proposal.
The Agreement provides for general wage increases of 13 per cent, along with lump-sum payments of $3,400 during the term. In addition, tradespeople receive an additional wage increase in each year. Weekly indemnity benefits and extended health benefits were also improved. Both the Company and the Employees will contribute additional premiums to the Pension Plan, which should stabilize the plan for years to come.
Brian Butler, President of USW, Local 1-1937 and the spokesperson for the Union’s Negotiating Committee, is pleased with the results of the referendum ballot.
“The Union was successful this year in negotiating what we believe is a very good agreement for the Membership,” said Butler. “Beyond a good monetary and benefit package, we achieved significant new language to address some pressing issues identified by the membership in both the manufacturing sector and logging sector. A couple of those issues include protecting members in manufacturing from severance avoidance in permanent partial closures as well as important protections in our logging sector.”
Rick Neuwirth, President of USW, Local 1-85 was on the Union’s Negotiating Committee and was also pleased with the new Collective Agreement. Neuwirth was particularly pleased that some major logging issues were addressed in this set of negotiations: “Companies will no longer be able to sub-contract out work to non-union contractors, and the Company agreed to implement holdback provisions if any of their contractors become delinquent in health and welfare or pension payments. This addresses the main issues of the logging membership.”
Negotiations are continuing with Forest Industrial Relations, The Teal-Jones Group, and Terminal Forest Products, and it is expected that those agreements will mirror the Western Forest Products Collective Agreement.
USW, Locals 1-1937 and 1-85 represent 4,000 Members employed in the forest industry on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Mainland Coast and the Haida Gwaii.