Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

$80/Ton – No Longer The Mantra…

On June 22nd Locals 630/1123 went to Catalyst’s Richmond headquarters and gave a joint $80/ton presentation to members of the Company’s “Executive Team”.  Few questions were asked and no clarifications were sought, the Company simply thanked us for the presentation, then assured us they would take a thorough look at it and respond in a timely manner. Everything seemed quite cordial.

Then yesterday (July 2), Catalyst executive members Steve Boniferro, and Brian Johnston were in town to give us the Company’s response.

Steve B. started the meeting by stating there was a huge gap between what we proposed, and what the Company thinks it needs to have in order to restart Elk Falls.  “Miles apart” is how he phrased it.

We asked if our proposal met what they viewed as an $80/ton plan? – “No” Steve fired back, “we’re not convinced, because your proposal had staffing levels below what we thought we need to run the mill”. (perhaps they should have asked how we got our numbers ! )

Hoping to get a more favourable response, we asked:  Was our proposal not equivalent or better than what was achieved at the other mill sites?

“Your proposal was the same as the other sites, with exceptions.” Brian Johnston answered, later clarifying  that by exceptions he meant  “where you had offered things we hadn’t seen at the other sites.”  They said they weren’t criticizing our presentation, in fact , it may be the perfect starting point for discussions we need to have on what it will take to restart the mill.

When we prodded more about the $80/ton, and how we could get a proposal that could see the restart of our mill.  Brian Johnston tried to answer, then blurted out that $80/Ton was  stupid and that he wished he’d never heard of it.

Steve Boniferro chipped in,  “You know, you’re paid more than the Auto workers are now,” what we really need to focus in on is getting our Labour cost per hour down.

We asked several times for them to tell us “Exactly what they want”.   They couldn’t.

We asked if it was similar to the proposal they gave to the PPWC at Crofton last week. ( see note at bottom of this post ) They indicated that was the kind of agreement they think they need to be profitable in the long term.

Clearly the goalposts have moved again.  $80/Ton was about keeping the machines running at the same productivity levels, but with far fewer people. Now that they have $80/ton plans in place that map out how to reduce the workforces at each of the sites (including ours, since ours is a workable plan), they want to focus on reducing  labour cost/hr which will be about stripping away wages and benefits from the few workers that will be left behind.

Since the focus has changed away from $80/Ton, to something completely different, we will meet with the rest of the 1123 Executive, discuss our options and have a full report for you at the next General Meeting.

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Note: Last week Catalyst dropped a document on PPWC Local 2, outlining what contractual changes they wanted in order to restart 1 line of the Kraft mill at Crofton.  Without reprinting the whole document, I think it would be fair to say you could open your collective agreement to any page, and if that page contained any costs to the Employer, they wanted changes or better yet, complete removal of the page.
I’ll give a few examples:

  • A 10 year Agreement, with wages rolled back 10% and then frozen for at least the 1st 5 years,
  • Employer pension contributions decrease by 3%, Employee contribution goes up 3%,
  • All benefit premiums split 50/50 between employee/employer (with the exception of those that you already pay more for, they stay the same)
  • Elimination of Bridging & Retiree benefits for new retirees,
  • Elimination of Call Time, Shift Diff, Sunday Premium, Sup Vacation, and 12 hour floaters (back to 8’s)
  • Reduce severance levels to 26 for job elimination and 30 weeks for mill closure,

The document includes a lot more than what’s on this list. Seems a general gutting of the Collective Agreement is apparently all they want,… For Now…

July 3, 2009 Posted by | - $80 Ton Updates, General | 23 Comments

Bereavement Notice – Jim Farrell

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Brother Jim Farrell, on June 28, 2009.

Jim worked as a Mechanic in the Garage since 1989.  He had been off work for an extended period prior to his passing.

A celebration of Life will be held on Friday July 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm at St. Peters Anglican Church, 228 South Dogwood Street, Campbell River.  A reception will follow.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society, Campbell River Hospital Foundation, or the charity of your choice would be greatly appreciated.

Our deepest sympathy to Jim’s family and friends.

July 3, 2009 Posted by | - Mill News | Leave a comment