Teck and unions reach tentative deal

Five-year contract includes wage increase, bonus and pension boost for workers at Trail's largest industry.

The fruits of a new contract are for the taking for Teck Trail Operations’ two largest unions after the sides reached a tentative collective agreement Friday.

Teck and locals 480 and 9705 of the United Steelworkers reached the tentative collective agreement for Trail operations after one month of negotiations that began in earnest April 30.

Although some details of the agreement are left to nail down, Doug Jones, president of United Steelworkers Local 480, said the deal was a good one, boding well for its  ratification.

The tentative deal is expected to carry an 18 per cent increase over five years of the contract, a 12 per cent boost in pension, and a $10,000 signing bonus.

“Those are the highlights of it right now but it is a tentative agreement so we really don’t want to get too far into this before we give out the final details,” Jones said. “But those numbers are there.”

The contract covers 1,180 people in Local 480 on the production and maintenance side, and 170 people in Local 9705 for the office and technical workers.

Jones said the contract should be in place while “big change” takes place to the Teck workforce over the next couple of years. He pointed to the hundreds of people set to retire over the life of the new contract.

“So that will be a big change, for sure,” he said. “That will also bring a lot of opportunity for new employees.”

The union will schedule a ratification vote to be held over the coming days. No other terms of the agreement will be disclosed until the ratification vote is complete.

Some factors that may cause the actual results to vary include difficulties in holding the ratification vote and obtaining union ratification of the tentative collective agreement.

The deal follows on the heels of a “really successful bargaining in 2008” for the union’s now expired contract, after a three-month strike in 2005.

In February Teck Resources Ltd. posted a record annual profit, as it looked to increase copper production and launch its oilsands operations.

The Vancouver-based company reported a recent profit of nearly $2.8 billion or $4.50 per diluted share on $11.5 billion in revenue for 2011, up from $1.8 billion or $3.08 per diluted share on $9.2 billion in revenue in 2010.

Teck ended 2011 with $4.4 billion in cash. Trail Operation’s gross profit for 2011 nearly doubled to $207 million from $107 million in 2010.

The deal for Trail was preceded by Teck’s Highland Valley Copper property near Kamloops in February, which provided a four per cent wage increase annually for five years, a $10,000 signing bonus, and improvements to the pension plan.

Teck is a diversified resource company in mining and mineral development with major business units focused on copper, steelmaking coal, zinc and energy.