BELLEVILLE, ON, June 29, 2017 /CNW/ - American corporate giant Kennametal is demanding harsh concessions from its Belleville employees, threatening decent jobs that support more than 100 families as well as 60 years of labour peace at the former Deloro Stellite manufacturing plant.
"Since 1957, there has never been a strike or lockout at this plant. The employees and management have always had a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. But it appears this is of no concern to Kennametal," said John Goldthorp, Staff Representative with the United Steelworkers (USW).
The USW is concerned that Kennametal is provoking the first-ever labour dispute at the Belleville plant with unprecedented demands for concessions in areas including benefits, wages and mandatory overtime, Goldthorp said. USW Local 5533 represents more than 100 employees at the facility.
"Our members are shocked," said Bert Dafoe, USW Local 5533 President. "They have decided these demands are not acceptable and they've voted 96% in support of a strike mandate for their bargaining committee."
The former Deloro Stellite facility in Belleville, which produces metal alloy components for industrial uses, was purchased by South Carolina-based Kennametal in 2012.
"This is only the second collective agreement we've had to negotiate with Kennametal. The first time, we reached a fair contract and last year we agreed, in good faith, to the company's request for a one-year extension. Now, they want to tear down what we've built over six decades," said Ernie Clarke, an employee at the plant and a member of the union bargaining committee.
A mediation session with a Ministry of Labour mediator has been scheduled for July 11, after which a strike deadline could be set if sufficient progress is not made in the negotiations, the USW says.
"It's the hard-working employees who are responsible for the success of this plant and for generations their efforts have been recognized with fair contracts and decent jobs," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.
"It remains to be seen if Kennametal has any interest in honouring that tradition by negotiating a fair, concession-free contract to avoid the first-ever work stoppage in this plant's history," Warren said.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792; John Goldthorp, USW Staff Representative, 613-546-1177, 705-801-5565, [email protected]; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, [email protected]