Agreement ratified by HVC union members

By on August 18, 2017
Highland Valley Copper mine. (KTW file photo)

There is labour stability once again at the Highland Valley Copper mine as unionized workers have ratified a new contract after nearly a year without a new deal in place.

In a ratification vote earlier this month, United Steelworkers (USW) members were overwhelmingly in favour of the new, five-year contract, with 84.5 per cent of the 873 members who voted opting to accept the new deal.

The new collective agreement an eight per cent raise for workers, along with a $12,000 signing bonus. The raise will give workers a two per cent pay bump in each of the last four years of the contract.

“It was an extremely long road,” said USW Local 7619 president Kyle Wolff. “We had to push to the wall to get the company to drop the concessions off the table that were going to affect the long-term employment of our members.”

Wolff said the agreement protects all of the existing contract language from the previous one and won’t contain any of the major concessions the company had been calling for, such as a two-tiered pension.

In a bargaining update to members, Wolff stated the new agreement has improved health and safety language and improved insurance benefits.

“We have built new rules around contracting out [work] to build on and protect the language that already exists [in the contract],” he went on to state.

That language includes allowing some work normally performed by union workers to be conducted by contractors who are included in the company’s impact benefit agreements with local First Nations.

“Our language has always been progressive, so we have made changes to ensure there is gender neutrality, included diversification goals and consideration for Indigenous Peoples,” stated Wolff in the press release.

Workers at the mine had been without a new contract since September of 2016.

The agreement came after bargaining resumed following a 99.8 per cent vote in favour of striking last month. The union represents about 1,000 workers at the mine.

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