Teck Trail Operations from Bay Avenue, July 18. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Teck Trail Operations from Bay Avenue, July 18. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Updated: USW will present mediator recommendations on Thursday

Union leaders will present Vince Ready’s recommendations on Thursday in Trail.

Thursday is a critical day for the 1,000+ union employees currently working without a contract at Teck Trail Operations.

After negotiations between the company and United Steelworker locals 480 and 9705 reached an impasse the last week of June, the union was awaiting recommendations from provincial mediator Vince Ready.

Those recommendations for settlement were received Monday afternoon.

In an updated membership newsletter, the bargaining committee announced its plan to a hold meeting in the Bailey Theatre on July 20 for Local 480 members at 4 p.m. The meeting for Local 9705 will be at 5 p.m. upstairs in the Local 480 Union Hall.

Ready’s recommendations will be presented to the membership at that time.

Voting will take place over a period of days, dates and times will be released later this week.

“A package will be handed out at the meeting with voting starting on Friday and all of next week,” Local 480 President Armindo deMedeiros confirmed with the Trail Times on Tuesday.

Pending the Thursday meeting, deMedeiros could not provide the Times with specifics from Ready’s document.

However, the mediator’s settlement recommendations will be brought to the company’s board of directors.

“We cannot comment on next steps until the recommendations have been reviewed,” said Teck Trail Community Engagement Leader Carol Vanelli Worosz in a previous Times interview.

“Our focus is on reaching an agreement that is fair to employees and supports the ongoing success of the operation.”

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.

The union presented an 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.