USW reaches lumber, hospitality agreements

The first is with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association, the second with the Kimberley Ski Resort and Trickle Creek Lodge.

The United Steelworkers union has reached a number of collective agreements that affect workers in the East Kootenay. The first agreement is with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association (IFLRA), the second with the Kimberley Ski Resort and Trickle Creek Lodge.

The deal with the IFLRA comes after two months at the bargaining table. The deal is a five year collective agreement affecting Local 1-405 members at Galloway Lumber in Jaffray and Atco Lumber in Fruitvale.

Doug Singer, president of USW 1-405, said this is the best outcome for the workers and the collective agreement.

“We established a pattern with the Canfor negotiations and then we completed that pattern with the IFLRA,” Singer said. “So far the responses we’re getting are good.”

Singer said the union feels it’s a positive and fair collective agreement.

“We addressed the issues around wage and pension and other benefits that we needed to,” he said. “I think it struck a very good balance.”

Details of the tentative agreement won’t be released until the members involved,  Local 1-405 in Cranbrook, Local 1-417 in Kamloops and Local 1-423 in Kelowna, get a look at the deal.

USW said the agreement is similar to others in the industry. For instance the Canfor agreement provides significant pay enhancements for tradesmen, improvements to health and welfare benefits and stabilizes  the  pension  plan.  It also strengthens  contract language surrounding the use of chargehands — supervisors below foreman.

The deal provides a signing bonus and percentage wage increases, as well as 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.

The other two collective agreements recently negotiated deal with the Kimberley Ski Hill and Trickle Creek Lodge.

The deals were negotiated by two separate bargaining committees.

USW Local 1-405 represents workers at both the Ski Hill and the Trickle Creek Lodge but they are separate agreements and separate memberships. Both operations however are owned by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR).

Both memberships still have to ratify the proposed agreements.

“With the abundance of white stuff on the hill and the anticipation of the upcoming ski season, we were able to secure improvements in wages and benefits for our members at Kimberley Alpine Resort and a significant wage increase for our members at Trickle Creek Lodge,” said Jeff Bromley, financial secretary for USW Local 1-405. Bromley was also lead negotiator for the membership at both operations.

He said with the downturn in the economy memberships at the ski hill and the hotel didn’t receive significant wage increases over that period.

“With the economic outlook improving and the record amount of early season snow, the employer came to the table and we were able to negotiate some significant improvements for both memberships,” Bromley said.