Mine Mill, First Nickel settle on 4-yr. deal – by Star Staff (Sudbury Star – July 10, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

First Nickel Inc. and the union representing about 105 production and maintenance workers at the company’s Lockerby Mine have settled a new four-year contract.

Members of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW voted 94% Tuesday to accept a collective agreement, which their bargaining committee recommended they accept.

Mark Isto, vice-president of operations with First Nickel, said ratifying a four-year contract is an important milestone for the mine, which reached full production earlier this year.

“The operation faces considerable economic pressures from low nickel prices and we feel the agreement strikes a balance between the needs of both parties,” said Isto. Nickel has been selling for about $6.10 a pound.

Lockerby Mine manager Cliff Lafleur said negotiations with the union were “constructive and progressed well, leading to a fair deal for both sides.”

By ratifying the agreement, Local 598 members “continue to demonstrate their commitment to the success of the Lockerby Depth Project and First Nickel Inc.,” said Lafleur.

The last contract for Local 598 members at Lockerby Mine expired July 13, but the two sides agreed to keep bargaining as long as was necessary to strike a new deal.

First Nickel Inc. reached full production at Lockerby Mine near Chelmsford by the end of March, with targeted annualized production of 10 million pounds of payable nickel in the first three months of 2013.

First Nickel purchased Lockerby Mine from the former Falconbridge in 2004. It stopped operating it in 2008 during the recession and has been ramping back up to full production since September 2011.

Mine Mill Local 598/CAW represents employees at several workplaces in Sudbury, primarily more than 860 production and maintenance workers with Xstrata Nickel.

As of Labour Day, the union will have a new name, Unifor, chosen from 5,000 submissions for the new 310,000-strong super-union created by the merger of Canadian Auto Workers and Communications Energy and Paperworkers.

Local 598’s charter will allow it to retain its original name, so it will be known as Sudbury Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers’ Union, Local 598/Unifor.

There are 18 units in Local 598, which has 1,850 members. As well as miners, the union represents employees at several long-term care residences in the city.

For the original version of this article, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/07/09/workers-at-first-nickel-settle-on-contract