WABUSH, N.L. – “Tacora Resources is disappointing our community. Our union strongly objects to the announcement of up to 26 ‘fly-in, fly-out’ management positions,” said Joshua Joy, President of United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 6285, which represents workers at the Tacora Resources iron ore mine in Wabush.
In a March 8 memo to all employees, Tacora Resources announced it will be offering 26 positions with a “fly-in, fly-out” option.
“If Tacora truly values teamwork and determination, it will work harder to hire locally,” Joy said.
On Wednesday, March 15, the union met with the company and was told the reason for the memo was the company’s difficulties filling and retaining the positions locally.
“While the union understands there are challenges in recruiting locally, we object to fly-in, fly-out positions. We are asking the company to prioritize local hiring over fly-in, fly-out,” said Joy.
“Currently, these aren’t union jobs – they’re management jobs. But we fear the loss of any good, local jobs, and the resulting harm to the community if this initiative goes forward,” said Joy.
“Our biggest fear with fly-in, fly-out, is that it may spread to the unionized positions,” said Joy.
While the company has acknowledged the union’s stance and made assurances that it has no intent to offer fly-in, fly-out for union jobs, the communities of Labrador West have seen other companies attempt to convert local unionized jobs to fly-in, fly-out positions.
USW Local 6285 represents 280 workers at the Tacora mine, including heavy equipment operators, plant operators, electricians and maintenance staff.
“When Tacora announced the reopening of the Scully Mine in 2017, one of the key benefits was the anticipated boost to the Wabush economy,” said Myles Sullivan, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada).
“Steelworkers care deeply about the communities in which we live and work,” said Sullivan. “You can’t build community if part of the workforce is going to take the money and run, and spend it somewhere else.”
Union jobs at Tacora are good jobs. The USW and Tacora recently concluded a new five-year collective agreement with 12.5% wage increases in the first year. Union wages start at $45/hour, plus benefits, with skilled trades making more.
“People in resource communities know the implications of fly-in, fly-out jobs. These workers take a large portion of their incomes elsewhere, minimizing the economic and social benefits that our resources should be providing to our community,” said Joy.
“Tacora prides itself on being a family-oriented operation. We want the company to reconsider its fly-in, fly-out plan and pursue alternatives, including hiring local people and others who are willing to relocate to live and work in Labrador West,” he added.
The United Steelworkers union represents 225,000 members in nearly every economic sector across Canada and is the largest private-sector union in North America with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.
Each year, thousands of workers choose to join the USW because of our strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and negotiating better working conditions and fairer compensation – including good wages, benefits and pensions.
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