About 300 workers, who are members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), Local Lodge 11, were locked out by Avcorp Industries in Delta, B.C. at 10 p.m. on Sept. 16.
The union and the company have been in bargaining since January 2019, with about 25 full days of negotiations. Avcorp’s first offer was rejected by the workers by a margin of 100 per cent. They then conducted a strike vote, with the employees voting 100 per cent in favour of a strike, says the union.
The parties went to three days of mediation, but there was no resolution, which prompted the company to apply for a government-supervised final offer vote. It was conducted by the B.C. Labour Board over three days in July and August. The members rejected it by a 98 per cent margin, says IAM.
“The two main issues are contracting out and seniority retention,” says Paul Pelletreau, IAM district 250 business representative, who also worked at Avcorp for many years. “Aerospace is cyclical work, and the workers want to know that if they are laid off, they maintain their seniority.”
Over the years Avcorp has purchased facilities in Burlington, Ont. and Gardena, Calif. The union is not asking for substantive changes in the contracting-out language, but simply to account for the two newer facilities. Members want to be assured that their jobs are protected, when layoffs occur to have recall rights which provide them with some dignity, says the union.
In many cases, when IAM members at Avcorp are laid-off, their recall rights expire and they must start again as new employees, losing all wage levels and accrued benefits. The last recall forced workers to take a pay cut of almost $4 per hour. A layoff period can last anywhere from two to four years. Similar work of this high-skilled trade is unavailable in the Delta area, says IAM.
Local Lodge 11 represents about 450 men and women who work in the aerospace trades at Avcorp Industries. IAM Canada represents more than 40,000 Canadian workers.
The company’s operations will be substantially reduced during the lockout and is operating on a reduced basis at the present time, says Avcorp.
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