KSCU DISPUTE – Union members wait for results

Kootenay Savings Credit Union will find out Monday whether its 150 unionized employees who voted on a new collective agreement have accepted the company’s final offer.

Results from a Feb. 15 last-offer vote have been held since the company submitted an application for a branch in Kimberley to be counted separately from its other eight branches. The East Kootenay branch operates under Steelworkers Local 1-405, with the rest falling under Steelworkers Local 9705.

But the B.C. Labour Relations Board ruled in favour of the union, since collective agreement counts have always been done together.

“We didn’t know what the company was up to when we heard about the request,” said union president Chuck Macklon. “We were kind of fearful that if Kimberley was split off, they’d weaken us.”

The main area of concern remains the lack of a long-term plan to compensate union members for changes made to the pension plan last year, which include the retirement age raised to 62 from 60, increased employee contributions by 

1.5 per cent and an increase in the early retirement penalty to six per cent per year, from three. 

In the meantime, an arbitrator is examining whether the company is responsible for compensating members for 2010 in regards to the pension plan changes.

“The issue is pension – period,” said Macklon.

If the members reject the offer, Macklon hopes to return to the bargaining table but is prepared to take other steps if that’s not in the cards.

The union filed a strike notice in the first week of February, allowing its members the right to walk off the job at any time over a period of 60 days. In its 42-year history, the workers at Kootenay Savings have never gone on strike.

Ninety-three per cent of union members voted in January to strike, with 

82 per cent turning out to vote.

Credit union president Brent Tremblay wasn’t available for comment by press time Wednesday.