By CAROL CHRISTIAN, Fort McMurray Today
Come Labour Day, there could be no labour on oilsands and other worksites, as ongoing negotiations with area trades have hit two new snags -- a do-over vote and a new strike mandate from two other unions.
While the boilermakers vote (Local 146) complied with Alberta labour laws, it missed the mark with its own international constitution. One example is the use of Alberta Labour Relations Board approved ballots instead of the union’s specific strike ballots. That means a re-vote has to be held with mail-in ballots to be counted Aug. 18.
While it doesn’t change the outcome, the new vote has to be held because “It’s constitutionally necessary. Their international won’t let them come along with the other four to strike,” said Barry Salmon, media liaison for the unions. This action will further delay negotiation or strike actions because the unsettled trade unions have to serve strike notice as a united group.
The unions involved also represent electrical workers, millwrights, refrigeration mechanics plus plumbers and pipefitters.
The original vote was held July 4. Those ballots had the boilermakers voting 98.6 per cent in favour of a strike. The low end was 85 per cent in favour from the refrigeration mechanics.
Now adding to the mix is two other unsettled trades, carpenters and labourers. They decided to to take a strike vote Aug. 15. Their contracts expired at the end of April.
While this delay further frustrates the process, Salmon noted “There may be some tactical advantage to wait until those two trades can come with us.” He added that instead of being five strong, they’ll be seven strong with a strike mandate.
Meanwhile, delay tactics is a term being used by unions to describe the negotiation process surrounding contracts for the five unsettled trade unions.
Settlements have been reached with 14 of the 25 trades. Under the Alberta labour code, if 19 have reached agreement, the remaining unsettled trades are forced in line with their right to strike removed.