Monday, August 20, 2007

Oilsands workers unhappy with offer

FORT MCMURRAY -- Workers from all trades at the Long Lake oilsands site south of Fort McMurray are protesting the latest contract offers before their unions.

Several workers participated in a "very peaceful demonstration" organized by the pipefitters Friday afternoon, said Dawn Ohama, an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Workers don't like the current four-year proposal retroactive to Aug. 12, when the terms were agreed on. They want a two-year deal retroactive to May 1, when past contracts expired.

The last offer made to IBEW members calls for a minimum pay increase of 23% over the next four years.

It also includes a 1% inflation protection index.


Anonymous said...

It is a good thing that the real building trades unions in Alberta remain relevant and active. That way clac hack blogs like this can copy and paste news about traditional construction unions to try and appear like they are telling you something you gotta know. Since nothing is happening for wannabes like CMAW anywhere except for under a JV DRIVER desk.

Anonymous said...

you tell 'em Piper!

Anonymous said...

you mean to say that the UBCJA/International unions sold you out again in Alberta.

Anonymous said...

Some union members unhappy with their leaders

Friday, August 17, 2007
Fort McMurray Today

Contract offers are known for dividing union workers and the latest offers before four of five trade unions are no different.
Since stories on the latest labour negotiations started appearing in recent months, Today has received numerous e-mails and telephone calls from people describing themselves as union members dissatisfied with the offers and questioning sources used for the stories. However, none of those people were willing to go on record with their comments.

"Contract times are divisive by nature and it's really unfortunate," said Barry Salmon, media liaison for the five trade unions.

He added this is the first time the unions have broken Alberta Labour Code restrictions that prohibit unions from striking. It was the first time the trades were in a legal strike position in 25 years. Describing that precedent, Salmon said "There's some folks that love it and some folks disappointed we couldn't address everything."

Meanwhile, the Alberta Labour Relations Board has accepted a request to re-consider a complaint filed by a union member claiming the boilermakers international union is interfering with the local boilermakers chapter's right to strike.

Eric Klyne, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), was notified Tuesday of the board's decision to refer the request to the board chair for review. The board originally declined the complaint saying it was an internal board matter and not a labour board issue and no action would be taken. "I am relieved at the decision," said Klyne. "I was surprised I had to request the re-consideration in the first place."

While his complaint may be moot given the union's possible acceptance of the latest offer, he said it will hopefully help to avoid any confusion in the future.

In his original complaint, Klyne said "The constitution of any union does not supersede that of the Alberta Labour Relations Code." The board is a quasi-judicial tribunal regulating the labour code.

The boilermakers (Local 146) July 4 strike vote contravened it's own international constitution even though it complied with Alberta labour laws. This resulted in a second vote described as a constitutionally necessity with mail-in ballots to be counted Aug. 18. The second vote doesn't change the outcome.

Klyne maintained it doesn't make any sense to delay the collective bargaining process for the four other unions on the basis of another's internal constitutional difficulties.

In a decision dated Aug. 9, Dennis Bykowski, director of settlement for the labour board, said the complaint was not accepted and no action will be taken. The letter explained the issues raised and identified are internal union matters and deal with the governance of the boilermakers' constitution

"There is no breach of the code as all trade unions in Group One that constitute the single strike vote you have referred to have 120 days after the date of the strike vote to exercise their strike mandate," said Bykowski in his letter.

Given the complaint is before the board, "I'm not going to comment on an active file," said Bykowski when contacted Tuesday by Today. He added that Klyne could appeal. That's since gone ahead.

In his letter asking for re-consideration dated August 13, Klyne points out his issue is not the internal governance of the boilermakers but with an earlier board decision that is, in Klyne's opinion, in conflict with the current delay in the involved trade unions' ability to exercise their strike mandate.

In July, the unions and their registered employers were before the labour board arguing voter eligibility and a request by the IBEW to keep all ballots sealed to avoid influencing the outcome of another union's strike vote. The board ruled this is one strike vote. If all ballots are not counted, it impairs the ability of the other unions to pursue their strike mandate.

It said it doesn't make labour sense for one union to delay the collective bargaining process of the other four based on hypothetical fears of undue influence on its own ratification.

The decision demonstrated no one union can delay the counting of strike vote ballots that would make the other unions wait to serve notice, said Klyne.

"It doesn't make much sense now for the boilermakers international to tell the boilermakers local they have to do a recount. Their count of the strike vote ballots was legal," said Klyne. "It followed the laws of the Alberta labour code."

In his request for re-consideration, he again referred to the earlier board decision, arguing the boilermakers second vote impairs the other unions' ability to exercise their strike mandate, contravening the board's earlier decision.