Locked out Fortis BC workers reject latest proposal

Locked out Greater Trail workers remain on picket line

They’ll need more firewood on the picket lines as the summer long battle between Fortis BC and its electrical employees looks like it will stretch on into the colder months.

After more than three months on the picket line locked out International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 213 have voted to reject the recommendations of mediator, Vince Ready, continuing the dispute with Fortis BC.

“I think that given the circumstances and the fact that they’ve been out for so long already it’s sending a strong message,” said Rod Russell, business manager for IBEW Local 213. “The reason they’re saying no is a lot on principle, they’re being starved into submission but they’re not accepting that.”

Ready presented his recommendations to the two sides after two days of mediation talks, Sept. 25 and 26.

The company accepted the recommendations for settlement of the dispute and the bargaining committee for the union presented the proposed agreement to the membership without recommending acceptance or rejection of the deal.

IBEW members in the West Kootenay voted on the proposal last Wednessday, followed by their Okanagan counterparts Thursday.

“We’re not saying anything about the numbers right now other than it’s not even close (to acceptance),” said Russell. “People are suffering to various degrees and there’s a lot of emotion but I never heard one person say, ‘It’s a good deal.’”

Director of Communications for Fortis BC, Joyce Wagenaar, voiced the disappointment of the company in having the summer-long lockout continue into autumn and possibly beyond.

“We had thought it was an opportunity to end the dispute,” said Wagenaar. “Given this is just on the heels of the rejection there is no clear path to resolving this for our customers and employees. However, we remain committed to negotiation and open to returning to the bargaining table.”

The disappointment felt by the company is echoed by the local bargaining committee but the union representatives see darker motives in Fortis BC’s bargaining strategy.

“This company never came to bargain, they came to dictate,” said committee member, Albert Bortolussi. “The rate increases were reasonable, everything else was concessionary. In today’s climate it just looks to me like union busting tactics and we’re the guinea pigs. We’re the smallest union and if we cave they’ll just take the same strategy into bargaining with the next union down the line.”

At this point no further mediation talks are scheduled between the company and the almost 230 employees working in generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.

The lockout affects employees and Fortis BC customers in Southern B.C. ranging from Princeton in the West, through the Okanagan and West Kootenay to Creston in the east.


Just Posted

“We all need to consider our lives and how we managed to make our way through society to achieve order and success and how it is that others end up in chaos.” Photo: Dave Lowe/Unsplash
‘There but for fortune, may go you and I … ‘

“Short stays on acute psychiatric units with minimal follow up care are not sufficient,” says Crain.

Fire at the former Alpine Disposal, and now GFL recycling facility, on Hwy 22 South of Trail. Photo taken just before 6 p.m. Monday June 21. Photo: John Piccolo
Update: Industrial fire rages outside Trail on Monday

Photos: The fire is reported to be at the GFL recycling facility

“Classes of 2020 and 2021 will have a remarkable distinction in history, and this will be their story to tell.” Photo: Tai’s Captures/Unsplash
‘Not sorry’

Letter to the Editor from Jennifer Sirges of Trail

Fruitvale Village Council outlined their Beaver Valley Middle School development plan to the community in September 2020. Photo: Jim Bailey
Province to fund Fruitvale affordable housing project

Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society will manage construction of 28 new housing units

Kootenay forests are unusually dry for this time of year. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
On summer’s cusp, Kootenay forests are at record dry levels

Southeast Fire Centre says 4 months of unusually dry weather have had effect on the region’s forests

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read