Embattled company's 'final offer' tactic rejected, again
BURNABY, BC, Oct. 12 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) said Friday
that, for the second time, the BC Labour Relations Board (LRB) has rejected
TimberWest Forest Corp.'s application for a "final offer" vote of some USW
members in the company's attempt to gain concessions affecting hundreds of
other unionized employees working for logging contractors, who would not have
the opportunity to vote.
In its effort to circumvent collective bargaining, TimberWest offered
signing bonuses of $2.9-million to 29 forestry crewmen and engineers, in
exchange for a sub-standard five-year agreement that the union says is
designed to destroy the rest of the bargaining unit and impact hundreds more
workers on the BC Coast. A previous similar effort was made and was also
rejected by the LRB (see BCLRB No. B189/2007).
On Friday the LRB issued a ruling confirming USW arguments
(BCLRB No. B233/2007). The decision, written by Vice-Chair Ken Saunders, notes
that the Coast Master Agreement contains a unique letter of understanding
called the Woodlands Letter of Understanding ("the LOU"). The LOU allows the
company to contract out logging operations while workers maintain rights with
TimberWest as their original employer. The company was seeking to alter this
arrangement in its 'final offer'. The LRB ruled:
...the Woodlands Employees enjoy subsisting rights under the LOU. The
Employer assumed those continuing obligations when it exercised the right
to contract out the woodlands operations. The last offer proposes to
rewrite protections under the LOU. Not allowing the Woodlands Employees
to vote on the proposed changes would render those ongoing rights
illusory and directly belie the quid pro quo underpinning the LOU.
"For the third time, the LRB has ruled against TimberWest," said USW
Western Canada Director Steve Hunt, noting that the Board ruled against the
company's first 'final offer' application and also found the company guilty of
bad faith bargaining on July 11 (BCLRB No. B124/2007). "What is becoming clear
to everyone but TimberWest management is that these games don't work and
companies have to bargain a collective agreement at the bargaining table,
across from the union."
TimberWest has yet to bargain in good faith with the union, said Hunt.
TimberWest employees are on strike against the company as Steelworkers
continue strikes against other coastal forest employers, including Interfor,
Island Timberlands, and client companies of Forest Industrial Relations (FIR),
which includes Western Forest Products.
For further information:
For further information: Steve Hunt, (604) 683-1117, (604) 816-2554; Bob
Matters, (604) 683-1117, (604) 996-4478