Significant Gains in New Deal for Thompson Steelworkers

THOMPSON, MB, Sept. 16, 2011 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers (USW) members in Thompson have ratified a new collective agreement with mining company Vale.

Members of USW Local 6166 voted Thursday in favour of a three-year contract that includes 2.5% annual wage increases, cost-of-living allowances, pension improvements and transition and retention payments.

USW Local 6166 represents about 1,100 workers at Vale's mining, smelting and refining operations in Thompson.

"We have achieved many improvements in this agreement, thanks to a strong bargaining committee backed up by solid support from our members," said USW Local 6166 President Murray Nychyporuk.

"Obviously, the gains we have made are bittersweet, given Vale's plans to close our smelter and refinery in 2015, eliminating 500 jobs," Nychyporuk said . "However, we were able to negotiate new language to try to mitigate the impact on our members."

The new language includes a "preferential hiring" clause for workers who are laid off as a result of plant closures. These workers will have hiring preference for employment opportunities at other Vale operations in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The new contract also provides each worker with "transition and retention payments" totaling $10,000, to be paid over three years. A $4,000 payment will be made October 15, followed by $2,000 payments on July 15 in each of the following three years.

In addition to the 2.5% annual wage hikes, workers will receive a 35-cent hourly cost-of-living increase, for an average wage increase of $2.72 an hour over the contract's term.

The contract also features a new incentive plan, as well as pension improvements. The monthly minimum benefit for members of the defined-benefit pension plan rises to $3,450 immediately, with a further increase to $3,550 in September 2013.

A defined-contribution pension plan for employees hired after January 1, 2012, will see the company contribute 8% of a worker's regular base earnings, as well as matching contributions of a worker's voluntary contributions, up to certain limits.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Contacts:  Murray Nychyporuk, President, USW Local 6166, 204-677-1700;
  Roy Leslie, USW Staff Representative, 204-687-7074.



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