Salt mine contract talks resume, but fears remain
GODERICH — As contract talks resumed Thursday, buoying hopes for the 370 local workers on strike from the world’s largest underground salt mine, a little tension was in the air, too.
While pickets on the line expressed optimism as talks started again between their union, Unifor, and the mine’s American owners, Compass Minerals, the sight of what workers believe to be supply trucks brought in by Compass raised concerns.
The trucks, union members fear, are supply trucks for replacement workers — some from as far away as New Brunswick — whose presence has been the biggest sore spot during the strike, which is nearing the end of its 11th week.
Talks between Unifor and Compass Minerals were held under a media blackout Thursday, with no immediate update on progress of the discussions.
Last week, pickets erected barricades to block replacement workers from entering the mine. Compass Minerals went to court to have the blockade removed, but tractors from nearby farms were soon blocking the path.
That set the stage for the resumption of talks between the union and Compass.
The strike began April 27. Compass Minerals has said it made the union an offer that addressed all outstanding issues and included wage increases and benefit improvements.
The union had maintained the company is demanding concessions such as mandatory overtime, reduced benefits, and a weakening of contracting-out provisions.