Forestry workers prepare to vote on ‘final offer’

United Steelworkers locals for Kamloops, Kelowna and Cranbrook met with the IFLRA last week to discuss a new contract for workers who have been without one for nearly a year

Kamloops forestry workers will decide by June whether or not to accept what the union representing them described as a final offer from the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA).

United Steelworkers locals for Kamloops, Kelowna and Cranbrook met with the IFLRA last week to discuss a new contract for workers who have been without one for nearly a year.

article continues below

United Steelworkers Local 1-417 president Marty Gibbons said it will take time to co-ordinate votes at every work sites, but noted the goal is to complete the process in about three weeks.

USW’s provincial bargaining committee, however, did not sign off on the agreement being presented, nor has it recommended it be accepted or rejected.

“It’s their decision to make and we support their choice,” Gibbons said of his members.

Gibbons said the two sides were close to a deal, but noted the IFLRA tabled a final offer with some key outstanding issues to which the union couldn’t agree — the main one being the inclusion of an extra cleanup shift.

The proposed agreement is for five years with about two per cent increases every year, retroactive to July 1, 2018.

It’s the same term and wage increase Local 1-2017 accepted from the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations earlier this year, which was likely to set a precedent for talks in the southern part of the province.

Gibbons said the agreements are similar, but cited a few differences between the two.

“Benefits are better in some areas for one group and vice versa, so is it the north agreement? It’s pretty damn close,” he said.

Gibbons said term and wage increase were not sticking points that led to the bargaining committee not signing off.

As of the end of 2018, USW had been seeking a three per cent per year raise over four years.

“It’s not the agreement we were hoping to bring back, but bargaining is about compromising,” he said.

If the offer is rejected by union membership?

“I guess that’s a bridge we cross when we get there, if we have to,” Gibbons said.

USW 1-417 represents forestry workers at mills throughout the Kamloops region, including the Tolko sawmill in Heffley Creek.

Workers have been without a new contract since the end of June 2018.

© Kamloops This Week

 


KAMLOOPS WEATHER

Question of the Week POLL

How has the pandemic impacted your Christmas plans from a financial perspective?

or  view results

Popular Kamloops This Week

Events Calendar

Help Us Help Kamloops. Support Local Media.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Kamloops This Week is now soliciting donations from readers. This program is designed to support our local journalism in a time where our advertisers are unable to due to their own economic constraints. Kamloops This Week has always been a free product and will continue to be free. This is a means for those who can afford to support local media to help ensure those who can’t afford to can get access to trusted local information. You can make a one-time or a monthly donation of any amount and cancel at any time .

NEW: For every donation of $25 or greater, we will offer a digital advertising package to the local non-profit group of your choice.

Click on https://support.kamloopsthisweek.com for more information or to make your donation.

Thank you in advance for your support.