·  Media Release   ·  

Steelworkers Ratify Five-Year Deal with Vale

SUDBURY, PORT COLBORNE, Ont. - United Steelworkers members in Sudbury and Port Colborne have approved a five-year collective agreement with mining giant Vale.

The new contract has been ratified by 76.7% of USW Local 6500 members in Sudbury and 87% of USW Local 6200 members in Port Colborne. Turnout was high for the ratification votes, with 89 per cent of Local 6500 members voting and 91 per cent of Local 6200 members voting.

Ratification votes were held over the last two days, after a tentative agreement was reached earlier this week by USW and Vale negotiators.

"This agreement is a tremendous achievement for our members and will benefit our families, our pensioners and our community for several years to come," said Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, representing 2,700 workers in Sudbury.

"We have negotiated an agreement that provides long-term security and that addresses our members' key priorities, including wages, pensions, benefits and contract language, said Sean Sparkes, USW Local 6200 President, representing 115 workers in Port Colborne.

The new collective agreement was reached one month prior to the expiry of the existing contract, which expires on May 31.

"We successfully engaged in a new approach to bargaining with the company, focused on negotiations at the local level," said Myles Sullivan, USW Northeastern Ontario Area Coordinator, the union's lead negotiator.

"We succeeded in reaching a settlement earlier in the process than has ever been accomplished in more than five decades of bargaining history," Sullivan said.

The existing contract that expires May 31 was reached in 2010 following a yearlong strike provoked by Vale's demands for unprecedented concessions.

The new five-year contract, which runs until 2020, includes significant improvements in numerous areas.

"This agreement reflects the positive outcome that can be achieved when all parties demonstrate goodwill in the collective bargaining process," said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

"I congratulate the Steelworkers in Sudbury and Port Colborne for the commitment and solidarity they have shown in achieving an historic agreement that will provide long-term benefits to their communities," Warren said.

Wages will increase across the board in each year of the new agreement. Cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments will be added to the wage increases each year. Based on projected inflation of two per cent annually, COLA is expected to generate additional wage increases of 44 cents per hour annually, or $ 2.20 per hour over the life of the agreement.

Each union member also receives a $4,500 signing bonus.

The new contract calls for substantial increases in contributions to employees' pension plans. By the end of the collective agreement, the basic pension for a 30-year employee will be $3,750 per month.

Benefit improvements will see increases in vision care coverage and increased payments for sickness and accident coverage.

The agreement also features significant improvements to contract language, including enhanced provisions affecting the grievance procedure, seniority recognition, contracting out and job postings.

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For further information:

Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Myles Sullivan, USW Northeastern Ontario Area Coordinator, 416-770-8878, msullivan@usw.ca
Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-521-3412, rbertrand@uswsudbury.ca
Sean Sparkes, USW Local 6200 President, 289-228-6833, ssparkes2@cogeco.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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