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Bargaining successes

July 19, 2023
Image: a group of five mean wearing picket signs and holding up signs stand outdoors in the road outside a Telus building. Signs read: Fair Contract Now and Just Praticing.

New contract ratified, TELUS workers now fighting to save Canadian jobs

After 18 months of difficult negotiations with telecommunications giant TELUS, USW Local 1944 members across the country ratified a new collective agreement in March. The gains they achieved were the result of a remarkable, sustained solidarity campaign.

“Every improvement won in this contract is the direct result of hearing from TELUS workers that they expect better. I am proud of the way that members held strong and pushed back, allowing us to make important gains in this new agreement,” Local 1944 President Donna Hokiro said.

The new contract, which extends to March 2027, provides total wage increases of 11.5%, as well as a $10,000 lump-sum payment for all employees. It includes enhanced language on technological change, paid domestic violence leave, improved benefits and pensions and other language improvements.

Soon after the collective agreement was ratified, Local 1944 was forced into another battle. TELUS issued 4,000 severance package offers as part of a devastating plan to eliminate more Canadian jobs, on top of the thousands that have already been offshored. The local and the union at all levels are fighting to defend these Canadian jobs.

“Telus has essentially become a foreign telecom company,” Hokiro and USW National Director Marty Warren said in a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We are calling on your government to undertake and support efforts to publicly investigate TELUS’s latest schemes surrounding Canadian jobs, and to enact policies that will keep Canadians answering calls from the customers in their communities.”

Locals 9554, 1976 • Quebec airport screeners secure best increases in sector

Negotiating for the first time as a united front, airport security screeners across Quebec secured two-year agreements with 12.5% wage increases – the highest in the sector in recent years. The wage hikes, as well as monetary gains on pensions and overtime, holiday and vacation pay, apply retroactively to March 2022. Full-time screeners received $1,200 signing bonuses and part-time workers received $600. The contracts cover screeners in Montreal, Quebec City and 12 regional airports.

Local 5442 • Strong mandate leads to good contract at Gerdau Manitoba

Backed by an overwhelming 98% strike mandate from the 330 members at the Gerdau steel mill in Selkirk, Man., the Local 5442 bargaining committee reached a solid, five-year agreement with gains in wages, benefits, pension, language and apprentice pay rates. Lump-sum payments over the first two years will amount to $4,500, followed by wage increases totalling $1.80 an hour over the ensuing three years. The new contract also maintains uncapped cost-of-living provisions, which paid an additional $3.35 an hour over the past three years.

Local 6285 • 24.5% wage hikes over five years for Labrador mine workers

More than 270 workers at the Tacora Resources mine in Wabush, N.L., will see their wages rise by 24.5% over the term of a five-year agreement, including a 12.5% increase in the first year. The contract improves vacation allowances, the retirement plan, shift premiums, contract language and other monetary allowances and funds a full-time local union president.

Locals 7065, 9414 • School bus drivers’ strikes pay off

When their employers refused to provide them with a fair share of provincial funding increases, school bus drivers in two Quebec communities hit the streets. Their strikes quickly paid off. After a one-week dispute, school bus drivers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Local 9414) won a five-year contract with gains including 18% wage hikes and a bonus based on government funding levels. Bus drivers in Sept-Îles (Local 7065) maintained their picket line for nearly a month until they achieved a five-year deal with total wage hikes of 21.5%.

Local 8883 • Saskatoon manufacturing workers make wage, pension, benefit gains

Members at Andritz Separation in Saskatoon, recently negotiated wage increases of 12.5% over four years, including a retroactive first-year increase of 4%. Pensions were improved with higher employer contributions, short-term and long-term disability coverage was increased, and a $750 signing bonus was paid. Members include welders, machinists and labourers who manufacture centrifuges for the potash and oil and gas industries.

Local 252G • Big increases, elimination of two-tier language for glass workers

More than 200 members of Local 252G, working at Pilkington Glass in Collingwood, Ont., have a new three-year contract that will boost wages by 17.5%, including a 9% raise in the first year. Members, who manufacture automotive windshields, also doubled their 12-hour shift premiums, improved their benefits and prevailed in their commitment to eliminate two-tier contract language on short-term-disability benefits.

Local 1-405 • B.C. credit union workers bank big bonus and wage hikes

More than 110 employees of Kootenay Savings Credit Union in British Columbia achieved total wage increases of 10% as well as $4,000 in bonus payouts in a three-year collective agreement. The workers at seven credit union branches across B.C.’s Kootenay region also negotiated increases in their health-care spending account, established a new personal spending account and added the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a new statutory holiday.

Local 1976 • Solid gains for Ottawa airport security screeners

More than 300 security screeners at Ottawa International Airport, achieved a three-year agreement that will increase base wages by 12.3%, as well as cost-of-living provisions. Members also won increased contributions from the employer, Garda World, to their pension plan and to the Steelworkers Trusteed Benefit Plan, while new sick leave provisions under the federal labour code were enshrined into the agreement.

Local 9344 • New deal counters inflation for rail, port workers

Some 400 workers at Rio Tinto’s QNS&L (Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway) and IOC port operations in Sept-Îles, Que., addressed inflation concerns with a collective agreement providing an 8.9% wage increase in the first year. The contract also raises an hourly “flexibility bonus” from $1.25 to $2, provides wage increases totalling 4.95% in the final two years and pays a $2,500 lump sum to members.

Local 4120 • Freed from unconstitutional law, university workers win strong contract

Nearly 900 administrative and technical staff at the University of Guelph achieved a strong contract after courts struck down the Ontario Progressive Conservative government’s unconstitutional restrictions on collective bargaining. Members won total wage hikes of 9.5%, improved benefits and recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a paid holiday.

This article appears in the Summer 2023 issue of USW@Work magazine.

USW@Work magazine Summer 2023

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