United Steelworkers Members Reach Agreements with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories

CHALK RIVER, ON, Nov. 7, 2016 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) has reached new collective agreements with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) that resolve pension issues caused by the privatization of the former Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

"The privatization of the former AECL resulted in significant challenges for our members affected by this decision," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

"It is a credit to these employees that, together, they have confronted these challenges and succeeded in negotiating new collective agreements to address important issues and protect their rights in the workplace," Warren said.

Approximately 360 members of USW Local 4096 work at the CNL research facility in Chalk River, about 200 kilometres west of Ottawa. The facility operated for decades as a Crown corporation before the federal government decided it would be privatized. It is now operated by the Canadian National Energy Alliance (CNEA) a private, for-profit consortium of several corporations.

USW Local 4096 members ratified three-year collective agreements covering two groups of CNL employees. One agreement covers 200 office and clerical workers and the other contract covers about 160 utility workers including radiation contamination monitors, labourers and related employees.

As part the privatization of AECL, the federal government decided affected employees would not be allowed to remain in their federal, public-sector pension plan after 2018, forcing employees to find an alternative.

The new collective agreements negotiated by the USW will create a new multi-employer, multi-union pension plan, known as the Canadian Energy and Related Industries Pension Plan. It will be a union-trusteed plan, overseen by trustees from participating unions. Employees and the employer will contribute to the plan.

The boards of directors of the CNEA and CNL are expected to ratify the pension plan by November 15.

"We believe the federal government should have allowed these workers to remain in their public-sector pension plan," Warren said.

"Given the privatization decisions made by the federal government, this new plan is the best-possible alternative. It will secure the future of these employees when they retire."

The new collective agreements ratified by USW Local 4096 members include several changes to contract language to protect employee rights and benefits. The agreement for office and clerical workers also will provide wage progressions of 2% each year, while the contract for utility workers includes total wage increases of 4.5% over 3 years, additional increases for senior contamination monitors and a lump-sum payment of $600.

"The work of our members at CNL and the former AECL has made significant contributions to Canada's standing as a leader in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and these agreements will ensure they are respected and treated fairly," Warren said.

The United Steelworkers also represents approximately 500 technicians and technologists who work at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. The technicians and technologists, members of USW Local 1568, have collective agreements that will expire on March 31, 2017. They will begin collective bargaining for new contracts with CNL in the new year.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792; David Lipton, USW Staff Representative, 613-260-7205 ext. 232, 613-859-8403, dlipton@usw.ca; Denis St. Pierre, USW Communications, 416-544-5990, 647-522-1630, dstpierre@usw.ca

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