The strike that battered the coastal forest industry for nearly eighth months is officially over.
Eight-one per cent of the United Steel Workers Local 1-19137 membership voted in favour of ratifying the tentative agreement with Western Forest Products.
The agreement includes a 12.5 per cent increase in wages in two- and three-percent increments over five years, increased premiums for those with first aid, a safety boot allowance and changes to policies on shift work. It also includes zero concessions.
Western Forest Products said in a statement the new five-year collective agreement is retroactive to June 15, 2019. Workers have been without a contract since June 14, 2019.
Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 announced last Monday they had agreed to the terms of a tentative collective agreement.
“With the assistance of special mediators, Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, we have reached a fair and equitable agreement that balances the needs of our employees and our business,” said Don Demens, President and Chief Executive Officer of Western.
The development comes after months at a standstill.
Earlier this month, Ready and Rogers withdrew from the mediation process. At the time, they said they saw “no basis for a negotiated settlement.”
They were re-appointed Thursday morning (Feb. 6) by Harry Bains, Minister of Labour and given “additional powers under the Labour Relations Code.”
USW membership was set to have a ratification vote on the tentative agreement. The USW bargaining committee has said they will be advising members to accept the agreement.
In a Feb. 10 statement, Brian Butler, president of USW Local-1937, said the details of the agreement would not be released until after the union’s members have a chance to look at and vote on the terms of the agreement. The vote was to be announced after the AV News went to press.