USW & Industry Exchange Bargaining Proposals

May 24, 2013

The United Steelworkers BC Interior Bargaining Committee has completed the exchange of bargaining proposals with the four major forest industry employer groups in the BC Interior and decided to open negotiations with Canadian Forest Products in an effort to develop a forest industry pattern.

Over a period of thirteen days, the USW bargaining committee met with Canadian Forest Products (Canfor), Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA), Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (Conifer) and West Fraser to hear their proposals and then decide who would be the best fit to develop the pattern.

During this exchange, the USW bargaining committee tabled the union’s proposal package of forty-plus demands that were ratified at the Kamloops Wage and Contract Conference in late April. The BC Interior Bargaining Committee—USW Wood Council Chair, Bob Matters; Local 1-405 President, Doug Singer; Local 1-417 President, Marty Gibbons; Local 1-423 President, Pat McGregor; Local 1-424 President Frank Everitt; Local 1-425 President, Paul French—finalized a list of union member’s demands that support the belief that the time has come to acknowledge valuable contributions made by members during the industry’s difficult times.

The Employer’s proposals exposed what was likely pre-exchange back-water talks between employers as a common thread themed on take-aways became obvious to the USW bargaining committee. While the USW bargaining committee demanded improvements on wages, benefits, apprenticeships, trades retention and hours of work, Employers are seeking cutbacks in overtime rates, contracting out and red circle rate protection, and even more damaging proposals to throw open alternate shift scheduling to allow split four tens shifts and the elimination of agreed-upon grandfathered alternate shifts. After receiving their proposals it was fairly clear that the Employers are looking for labour cost reductions, greater flexibility, and a smaller collective agreement.

After careful consideration of all the employer proposals, the BC Interior Bargaining Committee has decided that Canadian Forest Products is the employer that the union stands the best chance of negotiating a BC Interior pattern deal that will not only benefit their union members, but will stand as a pattern to press other employers to acknowledge valuable contributions made by union members throughout the BC Interior forest industry’s difficult times.

Bob Matters
District 3# Wood Council