Steelworkers' Negotiations at CEZinc in Valleyfield - Two Major Gains: Pensions and Sub-contracting

    MONTREAL, Feb. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - The 462 Steelworkers working for CEZinc
in Valleyfield have accepted a new four-year collective agreement, of which
the key provisions are a major improvement in the company's pension plan and
the clause dealing with sub-contracting. "Our members' priority was the
pension plan, and our objective in this area has been met: the basic pension
amount will be increased, an employer-funded phased-in retirement program has
been implemented and an annual escalator clause introduced along with improved
pension payouts for those who have already retired. The other major priority
was sub-contracting. It is now clear that any work done in the plant must be
carried out by workers from this bargaining unit," declared Richard Boudreault
and Jean-Guy Bouchard, respectively union staffer and head of Local 6486 of
the USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ).
    In continuing, the two union leaders pointed out that this set of
negotiations was particularly difficult. "We held a total of 70 meetings with
the company," they explained, "over a period running from September 2007 to
February 2008. The bargaining committee worked very hard to achieve the
objectives set by our members. An example is the final package deal presented
by the company on December 6. We could take it or leave it. We took it to a
general assembly, where it was rejected by 80% of our membership. They would
not submit to any form of blackmail. They wanted a negotiated settlement."

    The Pension Plan

    The basic pension amount paid out under the plan will rise from $48 to
$54 monthly for each year of service. An annual indexing formula for pensions
has been negotiated. The previous formula was applicable once every three
years. Under the new phased-in retirement program, workers aged 56 years with
30 years of service will be able to work 13 weeks in the plant and remain at
home for 13 additional paid weeks, based on the new pension plan terms, while
they are covered under the insurance plan. The program, of two years' maximum
duration, will be paid for directly by the employer rather than through the
pension plan. And finally, union members also thought of those who have
already retired. These past employees will receive 50% of the pension owed to
retirees under the new agreement.

    The Insurance Plan

    This plan has also been improved with the addition of travel insurance
for workers who go out of the country, payments for laser eye surgery and
specialist costs when patients are referred by the worker's attending dentist.
The short-term disability insurance amount will increase to $630 weekly or
plan participants can opt for a formula that pays 55% of income, which is


    The Steelworkers working for this company will receive salary increases
of $0.55 hourly for the first three years of the contract and $0.60 for the
final year. Upon expiry of this collective agreement, the average hourly rate
will be $28.

    Sub-contracting and job creation

    In addition to improving the clause dealing with sub-contracting, the
Steelworkers (FTQ) union has negotiated the creation of ten jobs, eight of
which will be filled by workers specializing in maintenance. The union also
negotiated the introduction of two new functions. "Sub-contracting was really
a major problem in this organization. At the start of our negotiations, there
were 250 grievances relating to this litigious issue alone. Outside the plant,
we have a collection of trailers that we call 'the sub-contractors' village'.
This makes no sense, but things are now clear: work in the plant must be done
by members of this bargaining unit," said Jean-Guy Bouchard.

    Health and Safety

    These clauses of the contract were also made more specific, with a view
to emphasizing prevention and eliminating the highly excessive number of
accidents occurring in this plant.
    The final concession obtained by the union will see the head of the
grievance committee freed up to work full-time on these matters. This clause
is renewable yearly, subject to mutual agreement between both parties.

    The factory belongs to the Noranda Income Fund, which in turn is an
Xstrata sub-contractor. The agreement in principle was arrived at on February
7. It was ratified by 76% of the membership on February 18.

For further information:

For further information: Richard Boudreault, USW/Syndicat des Métallos
(FTQ), (514) 599-2029; Jean-Guy Bouchard, USW/Syndicat des Métallos (FTQ),
Local 6486, (450) 373-9144, extension 2364

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