The United Steelworkers union has reached a tentative agreement with Canadian Forest Products — or Canfor.
Canfor is the biggest forestry company in the Kootenay-Boundary region.
The agreement comes as Canfor and the USW resumed bargaining last Friday at the BC Labour Relation Board after a five-week break in talks.
Doug Singer, president of USW Local 1-405, said the agreement is good news.
“We’ve been in bargaining since early June,” Singer said. “We’ve met about 35 days of bargaining and it got tough to work toward the end, but we managed to negotiate a five-year agreement.”
The agreement provides pay increases for tradesmen, improves health and welfare benefits, stabilizes the pension plan and strengthens contract language.
In addition to a signing bonus and percentage wage increases, the deal also provides cash payments in the third, fourth and fifth years, rate adjustments for log scalers and carpenters, and help for apprentice travel and living out expenses.
“I think overall it’s a good collective agreement,” Singer said.
The USW union covers over 400 workers in the Elko, Canal and Radium Canfor operations.
“On behalf of the union, I recommended this agreement and signed off on it,” he said.
Singer will be meeting members next week to present the tentative agreement and get feedback.
“The biggest issue in this round of bargaining, for the union and for our members, and I think even for the employer, was this industry in a lot of ways has not done well,” he said. “Our members have suffered as a result of that.”
More details will be released once the B.C. Interior Bargaining Committee has had an opportunity to first discuss the tentative agreement with their members.
This tentative agreement will form the pattern for the remaining employers in the B.C. Interior.