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Quebec’s ABI Employees Reject Company Offer, Adopt Strike Mandate

BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Unionized employees at Bécancour’s ABI aluminum smelter have voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s contract offer and to adopt a strike mandate.

At membership meetings over the last two days, members of United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700 voted 97% to reject the company’s offer and give their bargaining committee a strike mandate. About 90% of union members turned out for the vote.

The collective agreement for the 1,030 union members expires tonight, at which time the workers will be in a legal position to strike and the employer will have the right to lock them out.

“We don’t want to trigger a dispute at this time. We want to achieve a negotiated settlement,” said Clément Masse, Steelworkers Local 9700 President.

“But the employer needs to grasp the message and take negotiations seriously. We have categorically rejected the proposal to impose a two-tier pension plan,” Masse said.

In addition to the employer’s demand for a two-tier pension plan that would discriminate against the next generation of workers, negotiations have stalled on the issue of seniority rights, particularly with respect to widespread job transfers and mobility issues expected in coming years as hundreds of new workers are hired.

Steelworkers Local 9700 will be contacting the employer with results of the membership vote. To help keep the door open to negotiations, union officials will not be speaking with media today.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL-FTQ), is Quebec’s largest private-sector union, with more than 60,000 members working in all sectors of the economy.

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For further information:

Denis St. Pierre, United Steelworkers Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca

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