Edmonton steelworkers ink new deal

USW partners with Australian union for support
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 06/11/2014

After 11 months of bargaining, the United Steelworkers have penned a new deal with a steel mill in Edmonton.

On June 6, about 77.5 per cent of the 250 hourly workers employed at AltaSteel approved a new collective agreement.

“This was a long set of negotiations, said Paul Perrault, president of the local USW chapter. “Our members stood together, voted for successive strike mandates, and because of that, we were able to reach a good, solid collective agreement — and beat back the significant set of concessions demanded by management.”

As part of the new four-year deal, trades and production workers will get a wage hike and a lump sum payment of $750.

But perhaps the most important victory, according to the union, is that workers will be able to keep a defined benefit pension plan, which includes a basic retirement income of $61 per month per year of service.

As well, the contract includes improvements to vacations, joint training for accident and incident investigations, increases in weekly indemnity, long-term disability and life insurance for retirees. The company also committed to establishing nine additional apprentices.

AltaSteel is owned by Australia-based mining and steel giant Arrium. During negotiations, the union said it received support from the Australian Workers Union (AWU), which bolstered its fight at the bargaining table.

“Those international connections were critical to let the company know we were prepared for tough talks, whether at the bargaining table or in the marketplace,” said Scott Lunny, assistant to the director for USW’s third district.

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