MONTREAL, May 9, 2014 /CNW/ - A tentative agreement was reached yesterday between Unifor and Resolute Forest Products. If ratified, this agreement will become the pattern agreement for the pulp and paper industry in Eastern Canada. This is the first major round of bargaining for Unifor since its creation.
This four-year contract is the culmination of more than two weeks of intensive bargaining in Montreal. "We are pleased with this outcome. In the past, our members have helped keep this company afloat, and now that the economic context has improved, it was time for them to make up some lost ground and ensure the security of their jobs. And that's what we were able to obtain," stated Unifor national president Jerry Dias.
Ratification meetings are set to be held in the coming weeks, with the results to be revealed at the end of the month. In the meantime, information on the content of the agreement will not be disclosed in order to give members an opportunity to react.
These negotiations with Resolute will help establish a pattern agreement for approximately 10,000 Unifor members working in over 40 plants across the pulp and paper sector in the eastern part of Canada. "This bargaining had to include 2 things, no concessions and economic gains in recognition of the sacrifices our members made in the past - we were able to achieve both. I am very proud of what our committee was able to achieve on behalf of our membership" said Mike Lambert, Unifor Director of forestry.
It should be noted that, in 2010, at the height of the economic crisis, the parties were negotiating in a context where Resolute (at the time AbitibiBowater) was under the protection of the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). The workers were forced to make numerous concessions in order to maintain jobs and save their defined benefit pension plan.
Today, with the major gains won in this agreement, the outlook for the future is brighter. "The pulp and paper industry is not dead. It is undergoing a profound change, and we have to make sure that it can renew itself by developing new products and markets," commented Renaud Gagné, assistant to the Quebec director.
Nearly two years ago, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) began the process of establishing a new union. Unifor the union was formed on August 31, 2013 at a founding convention in Toronto. Representing over 305,000 workers in Canada, Unifor is the largest union of workers in the country's pulp and paper industry.
For further information:
Mike Lambert - 905-351-1709
Renaud Gagné - (514) 916-9364
Marie-Andrée L'Heureux, (514) 916-7373