Elk Falls Workers

Campbell River B.C.

Friday Severance

We met with the company this morning to look at the form they expect employees to sign when applying for their severance. It says that you give up all claims against the company, which we read to mean if we win our holiday pay grievance you won’t get the money if you have already severed. Vern confirmed that was what they intended. When we asked the company about whether members can add a waiver of their own to the form about still having rights to grieve they said they would not accept forms that had that added.

We argued that the company has no right to ask members to sign away their rights as that’s not  required to get their contractual severance, but they were clearly not going to change their mind. We made sure we were clear that we don’t agree with their position and launched a grievance on the issue. For people intending to sever it’s either one more uncertainty or one more reason to leave depending on your point of view.

The company did tell us today that when employees go out to the mill they can talk to a company person and get their severance numbers and then go away if they want and look over the offer and get a chance to think about it and then come back later and hand it in. Anyone that hands in their request to sever tomorrow is going to be treated as the 26th severance date once the company has decided whether they are willing to pay, if they want a different severance day they need to hand it in later. Anybody that hands a layoff severance letter in between now and the 8th will hear on the 8th of March.

On the other hand for employees that still have kraftmill closure severance outstanding they won’t be dealing with those tomorrow. The company will not have any information about them and won’t be accepting the paperwork. Members that have a  kraftmill severance can put them in anytime after tomorrow and they will be put though as in the past. Those severances are still getting approved.

The company says there will people there all day from 8am to 4pm to talk to about the severance. Ian and myself will not be there as this is completely run by the company with no input from the union. We will however be available all day either at the office or on our cell phones for members that need more information just as we always are. If you need to ask questions don’t hesitate to call, that’s what we are there for. Lori has the numbers and they are on our website.

I want to say good luck everyone with your decision, I know it’s not easy and the company is unfortunately making no attempt to help. For those going to the mill please treat the staff with respect, they are just employees like we are and aren’t to blame for the mess the company is in.

February 25, 2010 - Posted by | - Mill News


  1. Thank you for the clari=fication

    Comment by Angus63 | March 5, 2010

  2. My attempt here is to be realistic, not inflammatory.
    If I remember correctly, the Company’s last statement about what it would take to get the mill running (as far as concessions from us are concerned) was $40,000/year for hourly employees – ALL costs included. So if you go with absolutely no benefits, that equates to a maximum hourly wage of $19.23/ hour. This is based on a standard work year of 2080 hours.
    Less than $20/hour for a trades person or a steamer. Good luck getting those valuable employees.
    I hope the operators don’t have to give up even more to attract trades and steamers with higher wages.
    No, based on your calculations, you don’t remember correctly… In the Company’s last position, they wanted a wage/benefit structure that was $40 per hour all in. That is quite a bit different than what you describe above. – Ian

    Comment by Angus63 | March 5, 2010

  3. At the last meeting we discussed a possibility of future training courses being made available to our members. Is there a list yet? Just for peoples information if they are thinking about applying for Oil Sands Work the “Ives” certifications that we got at the mill are not readily accepted. They require Oil Sands Certifications (OSSA) out there. C.S.T.S. and H2S Alive are accepted.
    We haven’t got anything officially set up yet, however I hope to have some sort of schedule worked out in the next week or so…. However, the CMAW local downstairs in the labour hall (the old carpenters local) has training courses available for people that want to go away and work for them.
    You can stop by their office, talk to them about what work they have coming available and sign up. – Ian

    Comment by Grizzly | March 4, 2010

    • Hey Grizz, Just FYI as far as training C.S.T.S for sure H2S alive for sure. But if you are going north be sure to include every course training seminar,first aid,fall arrest,And every bit of training we have ever recieved,(through Elk).Have electronic as well as hard copy,SAP training, computer skills, And most of all experience!(use NIEFS) Be sure you tell whom ever you choose, you are a Catalyst survivor! Hold your head up and never forget that companys once looked at us as leaders! Be Safe! Good Luck!!!

      Comment by larry lagos | March 4, 2010

  4. How does this all affect former employees that are permanently disabled?
    I am assuming you mean employees that are off on some form of disability benefits. All the discussion about severances or CCAA shouldn’t be a concern for people on LTD. There is still a collective agreement in place and they will continue to receive benefits until either: they are deemed fit to return to work, or their benefits run out.
    If the Company was to go bankrupt, then it would be another story, but it would be more than just those on medical benefits that would be affected.
    However, there is one thing that anyone currently on medical benefits (W/I, LTD, WCB) should be aware of .
    During a period of layoff, when there is no work available, the Company is not obligated to make pension contributions on behalf of people off on medical. If anyone who is off on medical benefits has more questions about this, just give me a call and I will try to give a more detail explanation. – Ian

    Comment by Dan | March 2, 2010

  5. I don’t claim to be an expert on the Global market place, the eat or be eaten exercise. The whole acquisition culture of buying up ones competitors and then closing down the least efficient operations has been the way of doing things for decades now. Everyone sped up their machines and soon out produced the market they were servicing. There is fibre available out there, it just costs more than is feasible to produce newsprint with. Perhaps the specialty grades would make it more cost effective. I am from the east and grew up in Hamilton, in my time there I have witnessed Firestone, Otis Elevator, Westinghouse, Hoover, Canadian National Steel Car and International Harvester all disappear from the landscape. I stand behind what I say and believe, I believe this mill and others like it may well have a future, but it won’t be like it was.

    Comment by Gerard | March 2, 2010

  6. I feel like election day checking the computer to see who voted. Are you guys intending to post any comment on how things went.
    It took a couple of hours for Carla to send me a form so I suspect it was a busy day at Elk Falls.
    Does anyone know when (time span) we will be able to go get the rest of our precious belongs which have been rusting at Elk Falls for the past year?
    People have been getting access to pick up tools or other personal belongings Monday – Friday, 8 – 4, Just call ahead to confirm. – Ian

    Comment by Brian Gordon | February 26, 2010

  7. For those of us out of town, any opinions or info you could pass along about your day at the mill? Thank you
    Sorry I haven’t got anything more to pass along. We only met with Vern Phillips about how the severance offer would work today and didn’t discuss anything else. Dan

    Comment by Brian | February 26, 2010

  8. Just curious and maybe I missed reading it in another part of the blog but what did the lawyers say when this was discussed with them? How can the Company “maybe” give you your severance and can add a few lines to your severance letter (as suits them) and make it so if you were “possibly” entitled to holiday pay, now you give up the right to it. How is that even legal, it’s definitely not right.
    Best of luck guys.
    Here’s how it works:
    We say “You can’t do that, it’s not legal”, and they say “Tough, we’re doing it, you prove that it’s not legal”
    Our legal councils’ opinion was that the Company couldn’t ask people to waive their contractual rights just because they were applying for a severance… However it’s no surprise that this Company seems determined to push boundaries no matter what they’re dealing with, and then utilize lawyers to try and prove they were rightfully allowed to do what they’re doing. – Ian

    Comment by Ned | February 25, 2010

  9. And once again silence from the National. Presently I am working in construction in Fort Mac with a cross section of tradesmen from Pulp & Paper Mills that have been shutdown all across the country. Their comments have been consistent, the CEP are great at helping mills go down for good.
    To say I am disgusted with the lack of support from the National would be the understatement of the new century!!!
    To be fair the national is not at fault for the state of the pulp and paper sector in Canada. Companies are going into creditor protection everywhere you look and to say the unions and workers can fix that is wrong. When we have asked the national to do something to help they have done it. We have the national spending so much effort on this industry that the energy sector feels ignored. I am not saying that that more couldn’t be done, but it isn’t from lack of trying! – Dan

    Comment by 1123 member | February 25, 2010

    • So let’s look at the big picture. This industry was once a leader and as a result we progressively improved our contracts over decades. Now the industry is in decline, and Dan as you note it is not just a Catalyst phenomenon. So despite the tactics of the present owners, I highly doubt that any other owner would have done things much different. Anyone that doesn’t know by now that a corporation as such has no conscience must be living in a vacuum.
      Unionism on the other hand is and was supposed to represent more, have the nationals lost site of what their mandate was when they began? The concept of a concessionary contract is a reality, many an industry has had to accept them for well over a decade. The idea of a pattern settlement sounds great on paper and may once have worked when the world beat a path to our door, but this is no longer the case. We are a perfect example, the market for newsprint is down and so are we. Mills that run specialty grades such as Neucel , still operate. I realize there is more to it than this simplistic example, but my point is this. Maybe pattern agreements have seen their day and will not be the way forward in the future. My understanding of what has happened back east and has been the case here so far is that the National has said stand firm brothers, solidarity forever. Then when the mills close the doors for good the Union disappears from site. Those who want their severance are free to apply for it, those who do not can stay and negotiate the possibility of a future. It may not be as lucrative as it was, but it is still a job in an ever shrinking manufacturing base. You could say that the city was blackmailed, however I feel that the mills in BC are overtaxed and it is only now that it has been addressed. Better a mill that pays less tax and a bit less in wages etc, than no mill at all!
      Well written Gerard. I don’t disagree with some of what you say, my only comment is that the National isn’t a magical overseer. They only reflect the overall members wishes. The National will provide whatever help we ask for but cannot force us somewhere we don’t want to go. – Dan

      Comment by Gerard | February 28, 2010

      • Well Gerard and Dan I say to you this.There is no fibre, there is no market for newsprint the CEO told you so. It wasn’t our work ethic it wasn’t our contract. If you think our contract drove them under your wrong. Theres mills running under that contract. We stood up to him and he didn’t like it. If this company can not run and make money they should shut down. Conceding to this man will only prolong the end, not change it. Move on this mill is done, I liked working here same as you, pattern bargaining is the best option we have at the time. We have benefited from this before, and lost; that’s unionism. Our CEO attacked this mill, it was a good plant he made a big mistake, we are all paying for it. Pattern bargaining, our work ethic, future concessions will not change our future at this mill. Sorry but unless you want to barely survive on wages it is best to move on. Face it he doesn’t want to run this place, if the next CEO has a change of heart the price tag will now be to high. Its been a good run .

        Comment by Patco | February 28, 2010

      • Patrick, I for one have had the Pleasure to work side by side with yourself,your brother, and some of the finest folks I have ever worked with! A laugh,a smile,Yet allways taking care of tasks at hand! Through the times of Crown Zellerbach, Crown Forest, Fletcher, Norske, You know the drill,Wow Pat you are right! Give what you may, but the bad man wants more! All of us are well trained! well respected! well regarded! Trust me!Hold your head up high! DO NOT WAIT for coulda, woulda, shoulda!!! for someone who has taken so much and given so little! The pain,the uncertainty,the nights wondering what next? Fare thee well! Pat I want to buy you a soda next time I am in Dodge City Pat!!! Warmest Regards! Larry

        Comment by larry lagos | March 2, 2010

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