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Interfor workers in Castlegar/Grand Forks ratify five-year deal

Castlegar Source
By Castlegar Source
March 17th, 2014

A meeting in Castlegar Monday saw Interfor workers vote overwhelmingly in favour of a new five-year deal, according to a press release issued this morning:

Following four days of bargaining in late February with INTERFOR for members at the Castlegar and Grand Forks Sawmills, USW Local 1-405 and 1-423 announced today that the members have ratified a new five-year collective agreement.

The new agreement included some major improvements for the unionized workers at the mills, including a 13-per-cent wage increase over the life of the agreement; $3,400 in bonuses over the five-year term; a $2.50 increase over the life of the agreement for tradesmen; improved contributions to the pension plan by the employer along with improvements in benefits for members at Castlegar and Grand Forks.

“The employer came to the table and met the terms of the pattern agreement bargained with Canfor, the IFLRA, West Fraser along with CONIFER in the North,” said USW Local 1-405 president Doug Singer who, along with Pat McGregor, president of USW Local 1-423 of Kelowna (covering the Grand Forks sawmill), led negotiations on behalf of the 300 members between the two mills.

“We were also able to garner some improvements in local agreement language and address a very important issue of restoring holiday entitlement for those members who lost their seniority following the three-year closure of the former Pope and Talbot mill in Castlegar from 2007-10.”

“Those members who lost their seniority with P&T and were hired back by Interfor in 2010 didn’t receive everything they had prior to the shutdown and change of ownership but we were, with the full support of the Grand Forks members, able to get a good portion of that vacation entitlement back for our members,” added Singer.

At ratification meetings held Monday in Castlegar, the membership there voted by a healthy margin to accept the terms of the new agreement, which runs retroactively from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2018.

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