·  USW@Work magazine, Spring 2022

Bargaining successes

From laundry workers to university employees and ski resort staff to child-care providers, Steelworkers in virtually every sector of Canada’s economy are negotiating good collective agreements to improve their working and living standards.

Recent USW bargaining successes include:

Local 7619 • Copper miners make a lot of cents with new deal

Over 1,000 members of Local 7619 at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper operations near Logan Lake, B.C., reached a five-year contract including improvements in wages, benefits and safety language, as well as a $20,000 ratification bonus. The union also negotiated breakthrough language such as a 17-week Employment Insurance top-up for birth mothers on parental leave, leave for members of Indigenous Governance, and creating an Indigenous Committee to improve Indigenous relations and workplace conditions for Indigenous members.

Local 9414 • Improved conditions come out in the wash for unionized laundry workers

In their second union contract since joining the USW, Local 9414 members at Buanderie Blanchelle, an industrial laundry facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., continue to improve their working conditions. The five-year agreement for the 120 workers, 90% of whom are women, includes total wage hikes of nearly 22%, increased bonuses and employer pension contributions, additional holidays, and language improvements including additional breaks based on temperature and humidity levels in the workplace.

Local 1998 • New contracts get passing grades from university employees

Some 3,500 casual (contract) workers ratified a three-year contract that achieved their goal of securing better treatment from the University of Toronto, including paid sick days, wage increases, improved dental benefits and better protection  for members facing discipline or termination. Another Local 1998 bargaining unit, representing the university’s 5,500 full-time administrative and technical employees, ratified a new collective agreement providing wage, benefit and language improvements, including remarkable gains on equity issues, such as gender affirmation benefit coverage for surgeries, procedures and other supports for gendertransitioning members.

Local 9705 • Ski resort workers groom better conditions on the slopes

Local 9705 members at Red Mountain Resorts, a ski hill in Rossland, B.C., ratified a four-year agreement with total wage increases of 16%. The 230 employees, who work in ski patrol, lift operations, maintenance, marketing, child care, ski/snowboard instruction and food and beverage positions, also negotiated increases in premiums and ski allowances as well as a paid, 30-minute union orientation for new members.

Local 4466 • Miners’ contract provides iron-clad benefits to community

Local 4466 members at Rio Tinto’s Tio iron ore mine in Havre-Saint-Pierre, Que., negotiated a new collective agreement that will add $11 million to their sizeable economic impact on the local economy. Base wage rates will rise by more than 10% over four years, with additional increases expected from cost-of-living allowances; pensions and insurance provisions have been improved; training bonuses will be increased; and a new floating holiday was introduced. Crucially, the contract includes comprehensive health and safety language to compensate for legislation passed by Quebec’s right-wing government that weakens provincial safety regulations.

Local 6185-12 • First contract provides building blocks for better child care

Following a lengthy bargaining process prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic, Local 6185-12 members achieved their first collective agreement to improve conditions at Labrador West Child Care, which operates child-care centres in Labrador City and Wabush, N.L. The three-year contract provides total wage increases of 10%, an additional holiday for employees’ birthdays, and codifies conditions including a $1,450 annual vacation bonus, paid sick days and paid breaks.

Local 5917-27 • Trailer builders set for the long haul with new deal

Local 5917-27 members at Doepker Industries operations in Annaheim, Moose Jaw and Saskatoon, Sask., negotiated a three-year contract with wage increases of $2 an hour, another 4.5% over the term, as well as a $1,000 signing bonus. The agreement improves provisions on overtime breaks, meal allowances, clothing allowances, prescription safety glasses, experience premiums and other language. Doepker Industries manufactures trailers for industrial and agricultural uses.

Local 7531 • When rubber hits the road, industrial workers win historic gains

Persevering for 15 months after their previous contract expired, workers at Soucy Techno in Sherbrooke, Que., who manufacture rubber and plastic components for industrial uses, won a historic five-year deal increasing their economic package by 25%. Wage increases, retroactive to November 2020, amount to 10% in the first two years, with annual increases ranging from 3.5% to 4% for the following three years, with a new “loyalty bonus” adding another $1 to $2 an
hour. Several other monetary clauses were improved, including a doubling of shift premiums and increased allowances.

Local 243G • Packaging workers wrap up three-year contract

Local 243G members employed at Graham Packaging Canada Company in Mississauga, Ont., ratified a three-year collective agreement with total wage increases of 9%. The workers also received a $250 signing bonus and negotiated shift premium increases for all shifts.

Local 816 • Quarry workers dig rock-solid agreement

Local 816 members at Texada Quarry Ltd. on Texada Island, B.C., ratified a five year-agreement that will see wages rise by a total of 14%. Other gains include increases to defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension plans, a $3,000 retirement payment for members who meet eligibility criteria, several language improvements, and a new statutory holiday for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Local 7625 • Good contract an easy choice for E-Z-EM employees

Local 7625 members at E-Z-EM Canada Inc. in Montreal unanimously ratified a solid contract providing total wage hikes of 14.75% over five years, increases in shift premiums and employer contributions to pension and benefits plans, and improvements to health and safety provisions and other contract language. The workers manufacture contrast agents, medical devices and solutions for diagnostic imaging systems.

Local 9042-01 • Waste management workers tidy up for another three years

Local 9042-01 members at Mississauga, Ont.-based Terrapure BR LP, a remediation and waste management company, negotiated a three-year agreement with total wage increases of 8%, including a 4% hike retroactive to November 2021. The contract includes shift premium increases and improved benefits, with all members to receive 100% coverage as of the agreement’s third year.

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