NEWS RELEASE (United Steelworkers): Voisey’s Bay Workers Ratify Five-Year Agreement

31 January 2011-Goose Bay, NL: Unionized workers at the Voisey’s Bay nickel mine in Labrador have ratified a five-year collective agreement, ending a bitter, 18-month strike against Brazilian mining giant Vale.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 9508 voted 88% in favour of a tentative deal reached by their negotiating team and Vale representatives. Vote results were released today, following balloting in a number of communities over the last several days.

“Our members are returning to work with their heads held high,” said Steelworkers staff representative Boyd Bussey. “They stood up for their families and their communities and fought for what they believed in.”

“This labour dispute was unnecessarily provoked and prolonged by a giant multinational corporation,” said Wayne Fraser, Steelworkers District Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“Our members deserve to be proud for standing up to this foreign corporation and for finally achieving a fair deal,” Fraser said.

The five-year contract takes effect immediately and will expire in January 2016.

“The company wanted a three-year deal, but we were looking for stability for our members and our communities and we’re happy to have a five-year agreement,” Bussey said.

Union members will be recalled to work within the next few days and it could take a few weeks before every worker is back on the job, he said.

Following are some of the terms of the new collective agreement, which includes improvements to several monetary and language provisions of the former contract:

•A $4,000 return-to-work bonus, with an immediate $2,000 payment and another $2,000 paid after three full months on the job;
•A $1-per-hour basic wage increase over the term of the contract, plus annual cost-of-living increases, including an immediate 62-cent COLA increase;
•A new, on-site bonus, worth 10% of a worker’s base wage rate;
•An increase in the employer’s contribution to the defined-contribution pension plan, from 6% of base salary to 8% of base salary;
•A two-pronged bonus plan, with a cap of 25% of workers’ straight-time wages;
•An additional paid holiday, for the Family Day holiday in February;
•New contracting-out language that precludes layoffs of unionized workers if the company is using contractors;
•Improved health and safety language.

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Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, 416-577-4045
Boyd Bussey, USW, 709-727-8632, 709-753-0864
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-434-2221, 416-544-596,