Wrench thrown into credit union dispute

Unionized workers at Kootenay Savings Credit Union are waiting to hear back from the Labour Relations Board whether they’ve inked a new collective agreement.

Results won’t be known until labour board rules how votes will be counted

Unionized workers at Kootenay Savings Credit Union are waiting to hear back from the Labour Relations Board whether they’ve inked a new collective agreement.

Members of United Steelworkers Locals 9705 and 1-405 held a last-offer vote Tuesday but after 150 members cast their votes at the nine branches – Warfield, Trail, Waneta, Fruitvale, Salmo, South Slocan, Castlegar, Kaslo and Kimberley – the results must remain sealed until the labour board makes a decision on an appeal made by the company.

The labour board will consider counting the ballots from the Kimberley branch separately, as it is the only facility that operates under the 1-405 union.

“We received two different strike notices

so therefore we applied for two different last-offer votes,” explained credit union president Brent Tremblay, adding that Kootenay Savings believes this is the correct process to follow.

But while this may be the first time the two parties have filed a last-offer vote, the union president is still surprised by the request.

“Throughout bargaining for 22 years, that’s how we’ve always done it, one vote to the same collective agreement,” explained union president Chuck Macklon, adding that the union objected to this request and has made its own submission to the board.

Though the union filed a strike notice at the beginning of February, Macklon said members wouldn’t consider walking off the job until ballots are counted.

“We’ll wait for results of the vote and hopefully get the company back to the table and get this resolved,” he said. “Why jump the gun?”

The unions took a vote in January on whether their members wanted to strike. Ninety-three per cent decided they’d support a strike – with 82 per cent turning out for the vote.

In the meantime, an arbitrator was brought in to examine whether the company is responsible for changes made to the pension plan last year, which include increasing the retirement age to 62 years old from 60 and adjusting contribution levels.

In its 42-year history, the workers at Kootenay Savings have never gone on strike.