Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

More severance information?

Ian and myself had a very weird discussion with Vern Phillips today. We were asking about how the Company was going to deal with people on Friday, and when employees would be able to find out how much they are owed in severance. Vern told us that they wouldn’t be told until after they had indicated whether they want to sever or not. When we asked how people could possibly make this kind of life changing decision without all the information he replied that they could figure it out by themselves by multiplying their hourly wage by the weeks they are owed. I asked how people could have any confidence in the rate they will be paid since the company in the last year on a number of occasions has reinterpreted the collective agreement on what rate employees get paid for holidays and floaters. His response was if they figure out their severance on base rate they wouldn’t be disappointed and could even be pleasantly surprised if they get a severance cheque that is higher than what they expect.

We pushed back and he said he heard our point, and that he would bring our concerns up and try to get an answer for Thursday. Frankly I was absolutely astounded, anytime  I talk to anyone in the company I am more frustrated with their attitude. It’s like they don’t feel there are any rules that apply to them. I am slowly coming to the opinion that there is no-one that can save this company from themselves.

Update Vern Philips called this afternoon to say they’ve reconsidered their position, and will now be telling people the amount of severance they will be eligible to receive before they sign up for it. They say the issue is all around privacy concerns, so now it sounds like they will only be allowing 3 or 4 people at a time into the conference room, and once someone leaves, another person will be allowed in.

We’ve also been told that form people will be required to sign will include a waiver that states you are releasing Catalyst from all actions, claims, and demands you may have against them.  We have informed the Company that we disagree with them taking rights away from people, just because they want to exercise their contractual rights to take a severance.  People may think this doesn’t effect them, but anyone who has an ongoing grievance, or is impacted by the upcoming arbitration over how the Company unilaterally dropped peoples’ card rate down to base rate could be caught up in this…   We have received legal advise and will be launching another grievance over this.  But I would suggest that people black out the offending language on their severance application, or at the very least write “signed under duress” on the page.  We expect to have a meeting tommorrow to review the documents they will be asking people to sign, but I don’t expect they will be willing to make any changes.  –  Ian

February 24, 2010 - Posted by | - Mill News


  1. Ian and Dan I for one would like to thank you for the effort you have put forth representing the members of this local it has been more than should be expected.
    So far as the companys latest ” sign away previous grievances” or you won’t be considered, I say you didn’t have it before, take your chances and get what you can.
    We are now in a Damned if you do or a Damned if you don’t situation. The company has always said they will not deal with a gun to their head but are now putting the gun to our heads, and unfortunately we have a big target on our foreheads.
    Take your chances and run!
    I will agree with Dan that those who will be dealing with us tomorrow should be treated with utmost respect and we should show the professionalism that we have demonstrated in the past. These people are there to assist us in our attempt to move on.
    Good Luck To All

    Comment by Grizzly | February 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Right on Grizz!!! Well put! Carla has been awesome as always! Good Luck to all!!! As for Ian and Dan and our Union Sisters and Brethren all, My warmest regards and Thanks! We always remember what people do for us! But we never forget what people do to us!!!

      Comment by larry lagos | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  2. Anyone got a starters pistol? We don’t want chaos tomorrow.
    No pistols, maybe numbers like the blood clinics!-Dan

    Comment by Brian Gordon | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  3. Is there a time limit as to when we have to have the application submitted. The only restriction is on how early you put it in, (the date of your 1 year on layoff). As far as waiting goes, you can wait as long as you want. – Ian

    Comment by Len Allen | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  4. What a great company! They were so concerned about our privacy they weren’t even going to tell individuals how much their severance would amount too.

    We should expect the unexpected. Part of their strategy seems to be to keep us of balance with surprises. Either that or they’re totally clueless and I am giving them credit for a strategy where none exists.

    When Garneau came up for the “Town Hall Meeting”, he never mentioned the HST ( Harmonized Sales Tax), due to kick in July 1. This is not surprising since the HST is a massive tax break for companies like Catalyst, and Garneau’s ends could only be achieved with grim and scary predictions. The provincial government won’t take in any less monies, they are going to make it up by taxing us an extra 7% on everything we buy. I can predict that if, in the near future while living on a pension I have to pay 7% more for everything so that Catalyst can show a profit, AND, I didn’t get my severance, I will be a bitter British Columbian.

    It is sadly ironic that the Wal-Mart will be opening while the Mill is likely closing. Not long ago, when we bought our groceries, the person at the till was making a decent wage. Without jobs like we used to have the future of Campbell River will be Wal-Mart, outfits scamming poor and desperate people with payday loans, casinos and pawnshops.

    Comment by Piet | February 25, 2010 | Reply

  5. Is this Friday the only day that we can first apply for severance? Can we not apply any day next week (Monday – Friday)? If most people show up this Friday it may take quite a while to just get in the door depending when you show up.
    You can apply any time you want – they have a number of extra people available to deal with severances on the 26th, next week it will be back to just Carla, and she’ll have all her other duties to deal with as well, so if the rationale for waiting til Monday is a shorter wait time, I doubt there will be much difference. – Ian

    Comment by Rich Bak | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. I believe the correct signature is ‘Without Prejudice’, I also think that the company has it covered.
    Quite a few years ago I was in one of my little tiffs with the company trying to get some justice and a friend, without a smile or a wink, without undue tonal inflection, said. “The company is evil Brian and the sooner you accept that the happier you will be.” I took that advice to heart and you can go back through my file looking for an end of complaints and you will have the date!
    But on that point, you should not complain about water being wet or fire being hot, so why even pretend to be surprised that Catalyst paper does not act in what normal people would consider an honourable way.
    For the last twenty years they have whined and snivelled (worse than civil servants) about how 1123 was the bain of the company. That we were the infectious disease destroying the whole outfit. Well we never actually did that bad as anyone that used to go to Norm Faceys dinner parties can tell you but they were always complaining about people in 1123 insisting on every little grievance. They have been without us for a year – they are still trying to rip us off – and they say they are doing very poorly without us.
    It is said there is no honour amongst thieves, well there may not be much honour amongst idiots either.
    Be kind in your negotiations and remember that when you see someone trying to explain something to a fool you may just be looking at two fools. Thank you Norm Babin for your excellent advice!

    Comment by Brian Gordon | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  7. I wonder what they are planning. A few weeks ago I phoned Carla up to find out how much severance I would get and she was able to tell me to the dollar. That tells me they already know what they are supposed to pay.
    You’re right Piet, before he left in December Jim C had already done all the calculations and had a draft letter ready to send to employees. The company seems to want this to be as hard as possible (maybe they don’t want employees to use the severance) and although they admit they have the figures, they are no longer willing to let people know them.-Dan

    Comment by Piet | February 24, 2010 | Reply

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