Black Cat’s "Cruel" Lockout Ends

A cruel 10-week lockout of its workforce by Black Cat Wear Parts in Selkirk, Man., has ended.

The 60 members of United Steelworkers Local 9074-12 were shut out of the plant at midnight on June 19, after the company rejected the union’s proposal for a two-year wage freeze without any further discussion or attempt to bargain further.

“We maintained a position put forward during negotiations that we would accept a two-year deal with zero increases, but the employer was not interested,” said Tony Sproule, USW Area Co-ordinator and lead negotiator. “We applied for Conciliation and discussions continued towards the resolution and amendments to the Collective Agreement that ended the lockout.”

On August 27, 2020, the membership voted to accept the latest offer bargained with the employer. The bargaining committee was able to achieve a wage increase that was approximately 50% higher than the offer rejected on June 19. The ratification of this offer concluded the 10-week lockout.

“During picketing, the membership remained incredibly strong and showed a huge amount of solidarity, and we maintained the same number of pickets during the entire 10-week lockout,” said Sproule. “No one was ecstatic about the last offer, but there were no longer talks of concessions on the table and equipment stopped being moved.”

“The agreement comes after a challenging round of bargaining with Black Cat Wear Parts,” said Stephen Hunt, USW District 3 Director. “Throughout the lockout, our members demonstrated the true meaning of solidarity and I thank all of the members and their families for their support during the lockout. I am proud that Steelworkers stood together to support the work of the bargaining committee and the Local 9074-12 leadership.”

This was the second lockout by Black Cat Wear Parts.

“The relationship with the employer and the workers has been damaged, to say the least,” added Sproule. “Can it be rebuilt again is a huge question, as this is the second lockout in 15 years at this operation.”

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