FATALITY IN ONE OF 
OUR OPERATIONS

Since our last edition, I’ve spent most of my time servicing our membership; attending membership meetings, attending union management meetings, helping members deal with their WSIB files and so forth.

As some of you may or may not know, just this past May, we had a Brother who got killed at work at one of our sawmill operations. The member was a 60 year old individual who had just started working for the company. This individual who apparently had a lot of experience operating a loader was crushed between a bundle of wood and the loader he was operating. From what we understand, the individual had gotten out of his loader to place some cross pieces on top of his bundles, when his loader moved ahead and pinned him against the pile of wood.  The individual got crushed between his loader and the pile of wood to be found later by his coworkers. The OPP and the MOL were called to the scene and a full investigation took place. At this point we are still unsure what exactly caused this horrific incident to happen. The MOL has 2 years to submit a report of what exactly happened. This should have never happened!! No member should get hurt at work, or even less get killed at work. All of us have the right to work in a safe environment. This just goes to show that we should all make sure that we work in a safe environment and that no matter how much experience or knowledge we have in doing our jobs, we have to always be alert. Many of us work around dangerous equipment.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of our fallen member. 

Canadian Blood Services

As I reported in our last summer edition, we are ready to start negotiations with Canadian Blood Services’ members form the Sudbury area. Dates are set in January to start negotiations. Hopefully we will be able to report back to the membership on the new Collective Agreement we were able to get for these members.

Rockshield Engineered Wood Products 

As for our membership working in Cochrane at Rockshield Hardwood Plywood, the 1 year extension on their Collective Agreement is up for renewal in January 2019. We just elected a Negotiating committee and we are getting ready for negotiations in the New Year.

Ryam - Chapleau Sawmill 

Dates are scheduled for the week of December 3 to the 7 to start negotiations with the folks from the Ryam Chapleau sawmill. Although there is a pattern in place, we still have many local issues to address during these negotiations. Hopefully by the time that the next Union Echo edition comes out, we’ll have a new Collective Agreement to report on.

Ryam - Chapleau Co-Gen.

Also in Chapleau, the membership from Ryam Chapleau Co-Gen. are waiting impatiently for us to start negotiations for the renewal of their Collective Agreement. Their Collective Agreement has been expired since April of this year. We are in the process of selecting dates to negotiate. Negotiations should take place early in the New Year.

Ryam Opasatika - Woodlands Operation

As for our members from the Ryam Opasatika woodlands operation, negotiations are on the way and a pattern is also in place. We are hopeful that we can report back to the membership early in the New Year on a new Collective Agreement. I’ll report on the details of the agreement in our next edition.

I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone and their family a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. Let’s all be safe.

In Solidarity;

Eric Carroll

MEMBERSHIP ON THE RISE! 

POWER UP


Nakina bargaining underway. Almost a decade after the last piece of lumber ran through the town's mill, Nakina lumber is flowing once again! The once idled mill in Northern Ontario is now in production. The Union is presently in negotiations to create good long-term jobs for the community of Nakina and its First Nation partners. Wood supplies from the Ogoki Forest, which operates within the traditional territories of the First Nations of Aroland, Eabametoong and Marten Falls, will have major economic benefits for the Anishnawbe people of the First Nations. The surrounding areas of Geraldton, Nakina and Jellico will also benefit. Stay tuned for further updates.

Atikokan sawmill members have seen a request by the Company to run 24/7 operations with the mutual agreement of the membership. A vote will be held in November or December at the Legion on whether to alter the shifts and begin the proposed schedules: 3 shifts plus a maintenance shift in the planner starting in the New Year with the third shift in the sawmill to begin shortly after the planer.

Resolute and Dallan Forestry Operations in Ignace and Atikokan will be down from December 24th and will resume January 7th, 2019. There may be some kiln drying which will see some Dallan mobile equipment operators continue through the cold shutdown.

Ignace and Atikokan have reduced production time because of poor conditions in the woodland operations…. wet weather has had a negative impact on the operations. Cooler weather is predicted as winter will ultimately blanket the North with its white coat. 

Dallan operations at the Ignace and Atikokan have been expanding and seniority lists have been increasing. The diligence of the mobile equipment operators has been second to none. They continue to work under strict conditions with professionalism. The schedules for the Atikokan operators will likely be altered to accommodate the future 24/7 operations of the sawmill.   

Gateway casino members have entered the final year of a three-year agreement. We will begin preparing for negotiations this summer. One major outstanding grievance involves stat pay and lieu time. The Company is working to rectify the issues related to the grievance and the Union expects this to be resolved in the near term. The Company has also been flipping and flopping on the hours of operations. There seems to be an end to this, as the company has informed the Union that their operations will be open until 4am going forward. Lets hope this creates some stability for the members. 

Remember! “What we plant now, we Harvest later” Attend a meeting, get informed and raise your concerns. 

From my family to yours, I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Work safe! and take care of the person beside you. 

In Solidarity;

Jason Lacko

LATEST NEGOTIATIONS

AGREEMENTS REACHED

Nakina

As reported in the last Union Echo, the Nakina sawmill has restarted its operations since February of 2018. The Local is actively working towards getting a new agreement for the workers at this facility. We are not getting any cooperation from the Company in this matter, helping an employee Association in meeting with the employees in Nakina with the intention to convince their employees to go and be part of this Association. We are still in conciliation in order to convince the Employer to negotiate a new agreement. We have been successful in scheduling some negotiating dates in June, July, August, September and October, but we have not reached an agreement yet as the Employer made a final proposal to the employees to vote on which was rejected at 91%. 

 Hearst Community Living

An agreement was reached at Hearst Community Living on August 30th. This is a 2 year agreement with 1.4% wage increase per year, and some changes in language. Members at Hearst Community Living are frustrated and disappointed by the way the Employer is managing money wise as they feel that they should be getting better wages and be recognized for the work they are doing instead of the Employer spending their budget on service agreement that is not bringing anything more, but working to the detriment of the workforce.

Hearst Farmers Cooperative

An agreement was reached at Hearst Farmers Coop. It’s a 5 year agreement with wage increases of 2% per year, increases in vacation, bereavement leave, vision care, and dental.

Health & Safety and Stewards meeting

Local 1-2010 Health and Safety Council meeting

On September 26 and 27, our Stewards and Health & Safety Co-Chairs met in Thunder Bay for their yearly meetings. For the first day and one half, both the Stewards and the Health and Safety Co-chairs received some trainings. For the whole day on the 26 they were given training by Brother Brian Harder who is the District 3 Health & Safety Director out of Vancouver. Brother Harder gave some training on Drug and Alcohol testing, and on the Stop the Killing Campaign. Brother Harder said that he really enjoyed his stay and was very pleased with the reception the delegates gave to both trainings he delivered. The same was said from the delegates. They did like the trainings and the trainer a lot as they said!! Thank you to Brother Harder!!

In the morning of the 27, Brother Ron Boucher gave some training/refresher on the Health and Safety laws in Ontario which was very interesting. In the afternoon both groups separated. In the Stewards’ meeting, the group was invited to speak in an open discussion on any matters and issues they wished to speak on, which was very interesting. In the Health & Safety Co-Chair meeting, reports were given by each and every Co-Chair on their dealings at their workplaces, and they also have elected the Executive committee of the Health and Safety Council. The delegates have elected Brother Michel Charron from RYAM Lumber in Cochrane as Chairperson, Brother Cody Swiergosz as 1st Vice-Chair, Sister Sylvie Valerie Denis as 2nd Vice-Chair, and Brother Darcy Whitecrow as 3rd Vice-Chair.   

In Solidarity;

Jacques Jean


RECENT SETTLEMENTS

A LOOK AT OUR HISTORY

Resolute buys a solution. As reported in the last edition of The Echo, we began arbitration with Resolute in May. The Company wanted to settle the issue prior to the arbitrator hearing any evidence. They offered to buy their remaining 21 employees’ seniority rather than honouring it. The offer was not unreasonable so we had to take for a vote of the members. It was accepted by 18 of the 21 in an all or nothing deal. The result is that there are no more active Resolute employees. 

New agreement. At Unitized Manufacturing, a truss plant in Thunder Bay, the members ratified a renewal of their Collective Agreement on October 15th. The agreement contains improvements to the clothing allowance, eye glasses, vacation pay, pension plan, 5% increase in wages over the term and a $400.00 signing bonus. 

New agreement. Integrated Distribution Systems LP (o/a Wajax), an equipment dealer in Thunder Bay, ratified a renewed 5-year Collective Agreement on October 25th, by 75%. The agreement covers Parts Representatives, Field and Shop mechanics. It provides for increases in the boot subsidy, the per diem for out of town work, improved tool allowances, benefit plans, bereavement pay, changes to the apprenticeship language, pay increases of between 7 and 10% as well as some adjustments to the field technician rates and the student rates. 

As the resident old timer and this being the time of year for reflection, the following is something you may want to reflect on.

In June of 2010 there was a merger of two strong Local Unions: USW 1-2693 and 1-2995. Both had a proud history. What follows is a very brief look at that history. It certainly does not tell the complete story.   

The beginning of Local 2693 was in the area around Thunder Bay. (Port Arthur and Fort William at the time) The mostly immigrant bush workers began organizing themselves to achieve better pay, living and working conditions from the lumber barons of the time.

The Northwestern Ontario bush workers were aided by several different organizations in the early 1900s, including the IWW (International Workers of the World) and OBU (One Big Union) followed by the Lumber Workers Industrial Union of Canada (LWIUC). Some had communist roots and right-wing views. At the beginning most members were Finns, followed by Swedes, Slavs, French and English-speaking Canadians.

In the late 1930’s and 40’s, the bushworkers eventually became the industrial branch of the International Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, known as the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union (LSWU).  The second annual convention of the LSWU was held in Port Arthur in 1937. Sawmill workers soon joined the ranks of the Lumber and Saw.

The beginning of the Local 2995 was somewhat different as the area was largely inhabited by French Canadians who were mostly homesteaders and fiercely independent. 

Sawmilling began in the Hearst area around 1918 when the first sawmill was built. Harvesting took place primarily in the winter months so homesteaders in the area began to cut wood for the area sawmills. Paper mills began in the area in the 1920’s.  Local 2995 was chartered by the LSWU in 1944 as the industry continued to expand and required full time workers.

There were several Locals of Lumber and Saw throughout the north. All eventually merged with either 2693 or 2995. The bigger Locals were better able to face the challenges brought on by the expanding industry.

The Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union was part of an International Union. Some Locals still exist today in the USA and Newfoundland remaining as part of the Carpenters. 

In the 1980s memberships of both Locals became disillusioned with being a minor branch of the Carpenters Union. It appeared to most that the needs of the Northern Ontario forestry workers were not being met. 

In 1987 the membership of both Locals approved the break away from the Carpenters and chose a merger with the Industrial Wood and Allied Workers; the IWA Canada. This merger worked well. We became a part of a vibrant organization determined to serve the members while uniting forestry workers across the country. 

The IWA-Canada successfully organized the unorganized where they could, including many in small towns where the rest of the membership worked. They came from various sectors, from credit unions, hotels, health care and casinos. This diversification helped to somewhat alleviate the pain that was to come with major downturns in the forest industry. 

We were a proud somewhat militant Union, not afraid to fight for fairness. We weren’t the biggest, but we earned the respect of employers. Through active participation and leadership in the various Federations of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress we were a valued part the Canadian labour movement.

Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing into the early part of this century the forest industry took serious downturns, causing major financial and other difficulties for IWA Canada.  Despite the organizing campaigns that had brought in members from a wide variety of sectors, the membership fell sharply. 

The decision was made at the National Convention in 2003 to actively seek a merger partner. The need to find a likeminded Union was paramount. 

The exhaustive search determined that the Union with values that most closely resembled those of IWA Canada was the United Steelworkers of America, an International Union known for its willingness to stand and fight unscrupulous employers, and a leader in health and safety and the larger labour movement.

With the agreement of the entire membership (each member had the right to vote) the IWA Canada agreed and the merger with the USWA was approved. It was completed in 2004.

Local 1-2693 and Local 1-2995 were now part of the USWA.

Following the merger with the IWA Canada (2004) and then PACE, (The Paper Allied Industrial Chemical Energy Workers 2005) the United Steel Workers of America was rebranded. The United Steel, Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union was created and was to be known and operated as the USW-Unity and Strength for Workers. 

The USW Wood Council was also formed as part of the merger agreement and continues to be the conduit by which the common interests of forest industry workers across the country are shared. Master Collective Agreements in British Columbia are negotiated, political and other lobbying is organized to protect and enhance the members working lives, and that of their family, community and industry. Solidarity among the forest industry membership is maintained.

By 2009 both Locals were struggling to survive. Discussions began to consider joining together as one. This led to the decision to merge. It was deemed necessary to maintain the ability to serve our diverse membership. In 2010 the merger was concluded. Every member had the right to vote. The merger was accepted by the members of both Locals by a large majority. The founding convention of 1-2010 was held in June 2010 in Hearst.

The current membership is served through two offices: one in Kapuskasing (20 Riverside Dr.) the other in Thunder Bay. (331 May St. N)

There are 6 staff members: the President and office manager along with two staff representatives work from the Kapuskasing office and two staff reps out of the Thunder Bay office. 

In the years since the merger, the Local has grown by organizing traditional and non-traditional members, along with the upturn in the forest industry and the restart of some of the idled sawmills across the north. The Local is presently in a good order. 

We are once again training members in health and safety, providing education to stewards and have reactivated the Women of Steel committee, all for the benefit of the entire membership. 

We should never forget the past or those hard lessons we learned.

Remember that we stand on the shoulders of giants, the dedicated Brothers and Sisters of yesteryear who lived and fought through many struggles and sacrifices to create the labour movement of today.

Those struggles include the alleged murder of two dedicated organizers who were drowned at Onion Lake north of Port Arthur in 1929. The killings that took place at Reesor siding in February of 1963, during a strike against Spruce Falls. The many other strikes, lockouts, and hardships that it took to gain the privileges, rights and benefits we enjoy today.

The gains of organized labour have taken many decades and have never been easy. Time after time those gains are attacked by greedy employers and by the right-wing politicians and governments they support. 

These administrations are not necessarily elected by the will of the citizens. They are often instead installed by the apathy of those that choose not to vote.

It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to participate in the election of our governments. Pay attention to the issues to ensure we elect decent politicians who will represent the best interests of working people.

It is also our duty to participate in the life of the Union; attend Union meetings and be involved and active in the Union and the community. Remember that an injury to one is an injury to all and that we are indeed our brothers’ keepers. Solidarity needs to be absolute, for the betterment of all. 

NOTE: In writing this summary the author relied largely on others’ research, and his own recollection. For further information on labour history some is available online and more is available at the various historical societies around the province along with some locally authored books.

I take this opportunity to wish all a wonderful holiday season and a healthy prosperous new year

In solidarity;

Bruce Frost

LOCAL 1-2010'S WOMEN'S COMMITTEE

A meeting of Local 1-2010’s Women’s Committee was held in Thunder Bay on September 13 & 14, 2018. At this meeting, an election was held to elect the Executive Committee. Here is the elected Executive for the Women’s Committee. These women have been elected for a term of 3 years ending in 2021.

Chairperson: Kelly Miller (Thunder Bay)

1st Vice-chairperson: Randi Dillon (Hearst)

2nd Vice-chairperson: Stacey Smith (Thunder Bay)

3rd Vice-chairperson: Denise Fick (Kirkland Lake)

Recording Secretary: Tammy-Lynn Constantin (Gogama)