Steel­work­ers in Labrador City pre­pare to ne­go­ti­ate a new con­tract

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL -

The union at the Iron Ore Com­pany of Canada in Labrador City is now pre­par­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a new col­lec­tive agree­ment.

The con­tract for United Steel­work­ers Lo­cal 5795, rep­re­sent­ing ap­prox­i­mately 1,500 hourly work­ers, ex­pires at the end of Fe­bru­ary 2018.

Union mem­bers have put their ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee in place, and in re­cent weeks, two meet­ings were held for mem­bers to rat­ify the de­mands they want ne­go­tia­tors to bring for­ward to the com­pany on their be­half. The pres­i­dent of lo­cal 5795, Ron Thomas, told the Aurora those de­mands are con­fi­den­tial, and the union would not dis­cuss them with the me­dia prior to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“The Labrador City ne­go­ti­at­ing com­mit­tee would meet soon with their coun­ter­parts in Sep­tIles, Que­bec to dis­cuss com­mon is­sues, as the con­tract ex­piry date is the same for that lo­ca­tion,” Thomas said. “Af­ter that, the union hopes to in­form the com­pany they are ready to start talks on a new col­lec­tive agree­ment. We would like to start talks be­fore the end of the year.”

The cur­rent agree­ment is for six years and is the long­est con­tract that union has ever ne­go­ti­ated. Tra­di­tion­ally most con­tracts have been for three years.

The cur­rent con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions come at an in­ter­est­ing time for iron ore mar­kets. Af­ter a boom around the last con­tract, mar­kets slumped, two mines in the area (Wabush and Bloom Lake) closed, IOC’s project Wabush 3 (a new pit de­vel­op­ment) was put on hold and de­vel­op­ment of the Alderon Kami project was put on hold as well.

But there has been some im­prove­ment in mar­kets, the IOC Wabush 3 project is now un­der­way, Bloom Lake is mov­ing for­ward, Wabush Mines is in the process of re­open­ing and Alderon says it will move ahead with the Kami project. This is an in­ter­est­ing time for the iron ore in­dus­try world­wide.

In re­cent weeks, mar­kets have been fluc­tu­at­ing, with prices of­ten closely tied to the de­mands of China. New mines have opened in var­i­ous parts of the world, and there is an em­pha­sis on ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity. Much has changed in the in­dus­try since the last con­tract was signed al­most six years ago. Other Steel­work­ers unions, such as the work­ers at Arcelor Mit­tal in nearby Mont Wright, have signed a new wage and work­ing agree­ment. These fac­tors should make for in­ter­est­ing dis­cus­sions around the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.

This pa­per will fol­low the progress of these talks in the months to come.


USW lo­cal pres­i­dent Ron Thomas

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