Talks between Teck, Union reach impasse

Mediator Vince Ready writing up recommendations for a settlement

Talks between Teck Trail and its unionized workers have broken off as efforts to reach a new contract reached an impasse last week.

A newsletter from United Steelworkers of America (USW) locals 480 and 9705 said mediator Vince Ready declared the impasse on Friday. He’s writing up recommendations for a settlement that will be brought to the company’s board of directors and union members for a vote.

The collective agreement between Teck and the USW locals expired May 31, affecting over 900 production and maintenance workers and approximately 160 office/technical employees.

Negotiators for both sides met on Thursday, June 29th to try to reach an agreement.

“In these talks the company presented the exact same offer that was given to the Union on June 6th,” the newsletter stated.

“Your Bargaining Committees responded with a counter offer clearly demonstrating to the Company that our goal was to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement,” the newsletter continued. “The Company outright rejected our counter offer and refused to move off their initial proposal in any way.”

The union presented that initial proposal to its membership in mid-June. Workers soundly rejected it, handing the union leadership a 99-per-cent strike mandate.

The last time a strike vote was held was in 2005. At the time the union also received overwhelming support, with 99 per cent in favour. That year the union did go on strike for 79 days, until eventually workers endorsed a three-year contract. It was the longest labour dispute at Trail operations since a four-month walkout in 1974.

When contract talks came up in 2008 and 2012 there was no strike vote or mediation required. The 2012 collective agreement included the biggest signing bonus, $10,000, the union had ever received.

Additionally, the deal carried an 18 per cent increase over five years of the contract, and a $12 boost to pension.

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