Kootenay Savings Credit Union (KSCU) plans to lock out its employees at unionized branches on Friday.
In response to the Wednesday morning announcement, USW spokesperson Jeff Bromley says picket lines will be up at all affected branches, but confirmation of the union’s next steps hinged on a later conference call.
That means Trail and Fruitvale locations will be closed for that one day, as well as branches in Castlegar, Salmo, South Slocan, Kaslo, and Kimberley.
The United Steelworkers Local 9705 (Trail) and Local 1-405 in Cranbrook, represent 110 employees at the seven KSCU locales.
Both parties were in the position for job action last Friday. Until this point, it’s been business as usual with union members choosing work-to-rule and an overtime ban as negotiations continued behind the scenes.
KSCU stated that all employees are expected to return to their next scheduled shift after the Friday lockout.
“Kootenay Savings and the USW Locals 9705 and 1‐405 have been in negotiations for close to a year, have made many attempts to negotiate a renewed collective agreement, with and without the assistance of a mediator,” the credit union stated. “Unfortunately the last mediation attempt resulted in an impasse as efforts failed to achieve an agreement,when the union asked the mediator to book out after the first of three scheduled mediation days.”
Talks continued last week, the union rejected the company’s last offer which was put forward on Oct. 24 … on Oct. 25, the union commenced strike action, according to the KSCU news release.
“We feel our only recourse at this point is to initiate a one‐day lockout to persuade the union to return to negotiate a fair collective agreement, and to help us address our critical issues while minimizing the impact to our employees and members.”
KSCU advises its members to conduct in-person banking on Thursday and issued a reminder that electronic services including ATMs will remain available and fully operational.
The two parties have been at odds all year, the key sticking points being pension protection and no wage increase for two years.
While KSCU withheld comment while a mediator was involved, Brent Tremblay KSCU president and CEO issued a statement after the latest round of talks broke down..
In it, he addressed the pension issue, and noted the plan is unique in that it is controlled by a board of trustees.
“While a Defined Benefit Pension Plan is costly to maintain, we are fully prepared to continue our participation,” said Tremblay. “The problem is that our current pension language holds us to unlimited financial liability for any changes that the trustees may make to the plan. This is a highly unusual requirement, and no other credit union in the B.C. plan is required to do so, including other credit unions in the plan who have employees represented by the Steelworkers.”
Tremblay maintains the language creates the risk of “untenable” financial burden to the 38,000 members of the credit union as well as 200 employees.