Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

Presidents Council

Update to Presidents Council…
On some of the financial blogs I have seen comments about a high level meeting being held between the Company and the Union along with much speculation as to the possible meanings behind it. I want to provide some explanation and possibly dispel some of the rumours floating around out there.
President’s Council was held Nov 26th. At Presidents Council, there are typically 1 or 2 people from each of the Locals. After that meeting several of the Locals felt that the nature of information given by the Company at the meeting warranted holding another larger meeting to allow all their wage delegates to hear the presentations 1st hand.
So at the Unions request, another meeting was held on Tuesday and the Company went through the same presentations for us.
We used the opportunity to get a lot more clarification on several of the issues they spoke about. There will be a full report at next Monday’s meeting! Ian

Presidents Council was held last week. The Company shared details of their proposed 2010 budget, as well as some details on the debt exchange/refinancing plan which was recently announced. It would be fair to say the Company is still totally focused on the cost side of the business. They have budgeted for Elk and half of Crofton’s pulpmill to be down for the year at this point. They seem to feel the paper markets will not improve until at least 2011. On the bond side they seem confident that it will work for them as it is existing bond holders swapping debt due in 2011 for debt due in 2016. This will also give them some cash to play with.

After recently kicking the tires at Howe Sound, we asked whether Catalyst buying it was still a possibility; Richards reply was that it was absolutely not going to happen.

A lot of questions have been asked about the severance employees will be eligible for after 1 year on layoff, so we asked about it and the company restated that they intend to follow the contract when the year is up. As part of next years plan, they have budgeted $13 million and expect 50% of those people that are eligible for severance will take it.

Also in the 2010 budget were proposed ideas for ways to spend their $18 million share of the black Liquor money. There were 2 larger projects at Powell and Alberni, and a number of small projects including 1 at Elk, but no mention of any money being spent at Crofton – which didn’t go over well with the representatives of the Locals there (the money Catalyst was eligible for all came as a result of running the Kraft Mill at Crofton)

They continue to insist that Elk won’t restart until we sign a new agreement with major concessions.

December 1, 2009 - Posted by | News


  1. When someone changes anything on a contract that is breaking it . so doesn’t that mean we can strike. hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Comment by norm | January 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. I had a look at the companies report to shareholders. They are telling the shareholders one thing and us something different. If anyone has the time to spend, I would suggest that the unions get a copy of that report. You will be amazed at whats in it. I think this is all a game to head office. They are actually making more money than they are telling us. They made 110 million in 2008 and the benefits only cost them 3 million. I could not find the exact cost for wages but I am sure its in there. They don’t care about the people who work for them. This is all about making money for New York. If we give the company any concessions we are all done. I think the plan for these guys is too get what they can out of the unions and then sell us to Canfor or the Chinese. I would not be surprized if somehow Jimmy Pattison has his fingers in all this. There is a lot more going on here guys and we need to find out what it is. I wish all of you the very best Christmas and for some i know its a difficult time. My heart goes out to all of you. I wish that 2010 will be a better year for all of us. Doug Turlock. Electrician. Crofton

    Comment by Doug Turlock | December 21, 2009 | Reply

    • Doug: Thanks for your comments. We do review all the Company reports that get released. They are all available on Catalysts website. I do agree with you that the message that Catalyst has sent out about them not burning cash and being the last man standing has recently changed, but sorry, I am at a loss to find in any of the annual reports where it says that the Company “made 110 million in 2008 and the benefits only cost them 3 million.” If you could direct me to that it would be appreciated.

      Comment by Ian | December 21, 2009 | Reply

      • Go to their web site,Investor relations,annual reports,2008 annual report, page 71.

        Comment by Doug | December 21, 2009

  3. I can not see how we will not be getting our severance pay.

    I am a member of Local 630 and attended our last union meeting on Dec.10. Western Region representative Mike Fenton was there and said that Catalyst is bleeding money at an ever increasing rate. In August they had an approximate liquidity of about $164 million and now it is down to less than $100 million.

    There is just no market for the business that they are in.
    Newsprint demand in the US is down about 28% from the beginning of 2009 and directory paper is down about 30%. Even the high glossy papers that we make (shopping flyers) are in a freefall.

    Catalyst is in a critical situation. All Forestry economists are predicting that the paper business will bleed even more money in 2010 before there is a turn around sometime in 2011.

    Catalyst is shutting down #1 PM in Crofton indefinitely starting on Dec.23 and also shutting down #9 PM in Powell River indefinitely sometime in March of 2010.

    The real problem for Catalyst is that they own 4 mills and can not afford to stay above water by running all 4 of them.
    If they only had 2 mills, they probably could hang on and make a go of it.

    They are scavenging all usable parts from Elk Falls for use in the remaining three that are atill running. I talked to one of the Machine Tenders in October, who has beeen going in periodically, and he told me that the conditions in #2 and #5 PMs were in a very poor state, They had no steam going into the buildings and had a very serious condensation problem. He even mentioned that there was mold starting to grow and anything that can rust, has rusted.

    This to me does not seem like a mill that will be starting up any time in the near future. Even if they can restructure their debt load, it will be just to keep the company afloat, and not become bankrupt and go into insolvency. When things start to turn around in the paper business, Catalyst wants to be there to make up for all the losses that they have already occurred.

    Just my opinion ………………..

    Comment by Rich Bak | December 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. If by their own admission, that the mill will not start up until the workers sign a new contract with major concessions, can we not say now that we are not layed off but locked out? What does Victory Square say about that. I mean we can’t have a work stoppage during a contract without incurring penalty so doesn’t the same hold true for them? To come out with a statement like that just shows the utter arrogance of our senior management. When is Third Avenue going to realize that when they hired King Richard they hired a DUD

    Comment by Gord Hartley | December 15, 2009 | Reply

    • Be very careful what you wish for. If E.I. thinks that this is a labour dispute instead of a market condition they could stop all benefits and even ask for a pay back.

      Comment by Tom Newman | December 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Rick Doman is buying a sawmill from Domtar. Could be interesting for us.

    Comment by a mill worker's wife | December 12, 2009 | Reply

  6. http://foresttalk.com/index.php/2009/12/11/tembec-wants-pine-falls-workers-to-give-up-their-severance-benefits

    Why are forestry workers letting this happen?

    Comment by CEP member in good standing | December 11, 2009 | Reply

  7. Comments were edited due to complaint.

    Hey, Mr CEP Member ln Good Standing, if as you say you are a member in good standing why do you not put your name to your many comments instead of hiding behind an alias?

    Comment by Jeff Harrison | December 9, 2009 | Reply

  8. Mill for sale …………….

    Comment by CEP member in good standing | December 8, 2009 | Reply

  9. Tembec to bring back Chetwynd pulp mill Jan. 1, marking 3rd restart in BC since September

    SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 4, 2009 (RISI) – Tembec plans to restart its idle 240,000 tonne/yr high-yield market pulp mill in Chetwynd, BC, due to strong demand in its key Asian markets, industry contacts told RISI. Chetwynd will become the third market pulp mill in British Columbia to bring back idled capacity since September.

    When Tembec shut down the high-yield, or bleached chemi-thermomechanical (BCTMP) pulp mill at Chetwynd back on Feb. 2, it said the facility would remain idle until market conditions improved.

    Related stories:
    Tembec slates $30/tonne hike on NBSK, BCTMP; other grades to rise – October 30, 2009
    Tembec to increase all its pulp prices $30-50/tonne worldwide – September 24, 2009
    At the time various market pulp mills across Canada were closing amid weak supply and demand fundamentals. With demand for high-yield pulp remaining strong since summer, Tembec plans to resume production on Jan. 1, an industry contact said this morning.

    Before the mill resumes production Tembec will have to iron out a labor agreement with its workers, which the industry source believed could get done by the end of next week. The mill has 140 employees.

    Three pulp restarts since September. Chetwynd will become the third market pulp mill in British Columbia to restart idled capacity since September. Other facilities that started up lines make northern bleached softwood kraft (NBSK).

    Those include Catalyst Paper, which resumed production at a 210,000 tonne/yr NBSK line in October and Harmac Pacific, which added 100,000 tonnes/yr at the Nanaimo Forest Products mill in September.

    The restarts have led to aggressive competition for softwood fiber in British Columbia and an increase in whole-log chipping. In contrast, fiber will not be a problem at Chetwynd because the mill makes most of its pulp from aspen.

    Comment by CEP member in good standing | December 6, 2009 | Reply

  10. The “Tie–In” is there although its purpose was the opposite; it was made for the City to run sewage through our system. At the time the SET PLANT was planned and constructed it was to also absorb the capacity of the Cities waste water needs.

    The Set Plant is a World Class System with 2 Primary Clarifiers, 2 Secondary Clarifiers, an Equalization Basin and a Cryogenic Oxygen Plant supplying 4 Unox Trains. Solid waste was taken out with 3 Screw Presses, and burned in a Power Boiler.

    At the time the B.C. Ministry of Environment put the kybosh on this plan for the City of Campbell River to use this facility, which would actually have saved Millions for the Tax Base of this City. We citizens ended up spending that money on a separate system. The reasoning at this time was (from what has been explained to me) that they did not want a mixed system because it would make it difficult for them to decide; “who was the culprit” if final effluent went out of bounds with there most stringent guidelines.

    Needless to say, it seems strange that somehow this can now be reversed and that our Cities somewhat inadequate system will be the savior for a company that just doesn’t even want to pay its Taxes?

    Comment by Gord Zmaeff | December 3, 2009 | Reply

  11. Thanks Ian, for the clarification.
    That is why I asked the question about whether I had a proper read on the situation at the end of my post.

    Comment by Angus | December 3, 2009 | Reply

  12. About the “Leachate Tie-In Project,” is the local media aware of this? Maybe some one should let them know. I am sure our illustrious Mayor is aware of this project.
    He is strangely silent these days about the mill.
    Catalyst’s city taxes are in arrears and the city is going to allow Catalyst to complete a project involving city infrastructure so they can put a few more people out of work ???
    Or am I completely mis-reading the situation?

    Comment by Angus | December 2, 2009 | Reply

    • Angus here are the email address for all councillor’s.


      Comment by CEP member in good standing | December 2, 2009 | Reply

    • If people want to bitch about our employer, fly at it, they deserve it and a lot more, but before everyone gets twisted about what our local politicians may know, or may be prepared to allow the Company to do, remember what the Company presented to us were “Ideas” on how they might spend the money – The projects they said were possible added up to more money than what they have coming to them. At this point none of the projects have been approved by the government as meeting the requirements of the Green Transformation Program. So all they are is possible projects.

      Comment by Ian | December 2, 2009 | Reply

  13. I was wondering what the terms of severance were under our new contract as far as total number of weeks we are entitled to and if they base it on card rate or the amount we were receiving at time of curtailment? It could make quite a difference to a lot of us that were put back on spareboard when the pulp side went down.

    Comment by Tom Newman | December 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Under the old contract you were entitled to 2 weeks/year for the 1st ten years and 1 week/year after that to a max of 45 weeks. Under the new contract the job elimination severance is 2 weeks/year for the 1st 20 years and 1 week/year after, to a max of 52 weeks. Permanent mill closure severance is 2 weeks/year to a max of 60 weeks.
      For a guy with 30 years seniority that will entitle him to 50 weeks(20×2+10×1). I expect the severance will be based on your last posted rate, so for example if an employee had a severance offer from the Kraftmill closure and chose to stay and work – spare board would be the new rate they would calculate on. That’s just my thoughts based on what the company did before but we will have to see how the company handles it this time.

      Comment by Dan | December 1, 2009 | Reply

  14. Dan…What was the small project at Elk?

    Comment by Brian | December 1, 2009 | Reply

    • The one small Elk project will be tying the landfill leachate line into the municipal sewer system so they don’t have to run the set plant while we are down.Maybe then they will feel they are getting value for their taxes.

      Comment by Dan | December 1, 2009 | Reply

      • There is not a chance the city plant can handle our effluent when we are running-too much flow and while down the PH is way to high – we are trucking a B train of acid in the mill every 3 weeks to meet MOE limits.The city plant is anarobic biology – no air required, cant handle mill land fill leachate without PH control. – So they must be planning to permanently shut us down and ask a favor of the city and take years of toxic effluent off their hands!
        I say keep the paddle wheeler here and get Disney to buy the mill site – Disney Land North

        Comment by kmartin | December 27, 2009

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