Affected locals ratify first collective agreement between Unifor and Resolute Forest Products, on 86% overall vote, union says pact included issues of outside contracting, economic improvements but not economic concessions, sets pattern for next steps
May 26, 2014
– The first collective agreement between Unifor and Resolute Forest Products has been ratified by all locals covered by the contract.
The agreement, the first major contract negotiated by Unifor in the pulp and paper sector since Unifor was formed last year, was accepted by an overall vote of 86 per cent, and will set the pattern for 8,000 workers represented by Unifor in the primary pulp and paper sector east of the Manitoba border.
"We did not agree to any economic concessions, and the issues of outside contracting and economic improvements were all key parts of this agreement," Lambert said.
This four-year contract is the culmination of more than two weeks of intensive bargaining in Montreal that concluded on May 9. The last of the ratification meetings took place Thursday.
Renaud Gagné, Assistant to the Quebec Director, said this agreement was made possible because of the solidarity and determination of our bargaining committee.
"Our members sent us to bargaining to make progress and that was achieved," he said
In 2010, at the height of the economic crisis, Resolute (then AbitibiBowater) was under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) during contract talks, and workers made numerous concessions to maintain jobs and save their defined benefit pension plan.
This contract reflects a brighter future for the industry today.
"The high ratification is recognition of the hard work by the bargaining committee members throughout this process, and what we were able to achieve in the negotiations," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
"It is now time to concentrate on a national forestry sector policy to ensure continued prosperity for this important industry," he said.
Key to developing such a strategy is a commitment from the federal government to establish a national forestry sector council with participation form all stakeholders in the sector, Dias said.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged. Unifor is Canada's largest forestry union.
For further information:
please contact Unifor Forestry Sector Director Mike Lambert at Mike.Lambert@Unifor.org or (cell) 905-351-1709, or Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.