Labour Board Ruling Vindicates Steelworkers In Case of Fired Employees
SUDBURY, ON, Feb. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Mining giant Vale engaged in
"patently unreasonable" conduct and violated provincial labour law by
firing nine Sudbury workers without recourse to arbitration, the
Ontario Labour Relations Board has ruled.
"This ruling is another concrete example of Vale's blatant disregard for
workers' rights, for our laws and for our country's labour relations
traditions and culture," said United Steelworkers International
President Leo Gerard.
"This is a major victory for our union, for the working families who
have been adversely affected by Vale's unlawful conduct, and for
unionized workers throughout the province," said USW Local 6500
President Rick Bertrand.
"It is shameful that the affected families have suffered in limbo for
more than two years due to Vale's illegal decision to deny workers
their right to independent arbitration," Bertrand said.
The OLRB ruled Friday that Vale violated the Ontario Labour Relations
Act by maintaining a "patently unreasonable" position with regard to
nine workers fired by the company during a yearlong strike in Sudbury
in 2009-10. Two of the fired workers - Patrick Veinot and Jason
Patterson - also were elected officers of the local union.
Vale broke the law by not "making every reasonable effort to make a
collective agreement" during negotiations, the labour board stated in
its 29-page ruling, which also made references to "troubling" behaviour
The labour board agreed with the Steelworkers that the fired workers
must have recourse to the long-established right and tradition of
third-party, just-cause arbitration.
"The Ontario Labour Relations Board has upheld the reasonable position
that our union had put forward since March 2010," said Wayne Fraser,
the Steelworkers' director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada who was the
union's chief negotiator during bargaining with Vale.
"By refusing to agree to this reasonable position and instead adhering
to its unlawful conduct, Vale prolonged the suffering and uncertainty
for families in our community. The OLRB's ruling should give Vale pause
to consider the hardship inflicted on these families," Fraser said.
"We are confident that the board's decision will help bring about the
reinstatement of these workers through the arbitration process," Rick
"In the meantime, we invite Vale to reinstate these workers while the
process runs its course," Bertrand said. "It would be the decent thing
to do and it would be a welcome departure from Vale's pattern of
"Since taking over Inco Ltd. in 2006, Vale has provoked unprecedented
labour disputes, attacked working standards, damaged labour relations,
slashed jobs, and announced harmful plant closures," said Ken Neumann,
United Steelworkers' National Director for Canada.
Last December, the OLRB found that Vale committed unfair labor practices
by unlawfully denying a union representative access to company
An Industrial Inquiry Commission appointed by the Newfoundland and
Labrador government to investigate an 18-month strike at Voisey's Bay
found that Vale's "behaviour demonstrates disrespect for the role of a
"The time is overdue for Vale to reconsider its entire approach to
labour relations and its troubling behaviour that has harmed working
families and communities," Neumann said.
The OLRB's complete ruling is available on the USW website, at www.usw.ca/media/news/releases?id=0738.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5950; /
Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792, 416-577-4045; /
Rick Bertrand, USW Local 6500 President, 705-675-3381; /
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, 416-544-5966, / email@example.com /