Thousands of Interior forestry workers in legal strike position this week | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thousands of Interior forestry workers in legal strike position this week

Tolko lumber mill in Kelowna.
November 19, 2018 - 10:05 AM

KELOWNA - Lumber mills throughout the B.C. Interior are facing strike action after mediation efforts broke off last week.

“I’m getting my executive board together to discuss strategy and will talk with the provincial negotiation committee to come up with a strategy on how to put a little bit of pressure on the employers,” Pat McGregor, President of the United Steelworkers Canada Local 1-423 said from his Kelowna office this morning, Nov. 19.

Four Steelworker locals in the Interior have been trying to renegotiate collective agreements for thousands of workers from Prince George, through the Thompson, Okanagan and Kootenay regions. The agreements expired on June 30, 2018.

The Northern region was in a legal strike position as of Oct. 6 and took strike action that included an overtime ban and rotating job strikes.

The Southern region – which includes about 2,500 workers – went into mediation rather than take strike action but booked out of that process late last week. They will be in a legal strike position Wednesday, Nov. 21.

Affected mills include Vernon-based Tolko Industries which has mills in Kelowna, Lumby and Heffley Creek, and Weyerhaeuser with a mill in Princeton and numerous other locations.

The Steelworkers do what is called pattern bargaining, where key issues like wages and benefits are negotiated in one location or with one employer, and that sets the standard throughout the industries represented by the union, although there can be site specific language in the contracts.

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