The head of Vale’s North Atlantic Operations said today he’s disappointed the Steelworkers Local 6500 bargaining committee is unanimously recommending striking members reject a second offer from the company.
The union’s bargaining committee announced today it is recommending to its 2,500 members that the new offer be rejected, as it includes “similar take-aways with minimal improvements” over the initial offer.
On June 1, Local 6500 overwhelmingly rejected an initial contract offer, with 70 per cent of members voting against the offer on a voter turnout of 87 per cent.
Picketlines are up at Vale’s mines, mill and smelter in Sudbury as the union representing 2,400 workers have voted down a tentative agreement with the mining giant.
United Steelworkers Local 6500 says in a statement on its website that 87 per cent of members cast ballots in a ratification vote Monday night and 70 per cent rejected the deal the union bargaining committee was recommending.
“Thank you for your overwhelming support to return us to the bargaining table,” reads the statement. “We are newly energized with this result and are looking forward to bringing your message to the company to let them know our work is not complete.”
Elizabeth Quinlan wants to hear from people who lived through the 3-month strike
A professor of social studies in Saskatchewan is putting a call-out for stories from people who remember the Inco strike of 1958.
The strike involved 17,000 workers who were part of Mine Mill — then, one of the largest unions in Canada — who were pitted against Inco, a powerful company supplying 90 per cent of the world’s nickel.
Elizabeth Quinlan from the University of Saskatchewan is writing a book about the historic event and is looking for anyone who has memories of being affected by the strike.
In July, 2009, more than 3,000 Steelworkers walked off the job in Sudbury after failing to strike a deal with Inco’s new owner, the Brazilian mining giant Vale. A decade later, we look back at how it all started and what it all meant
In the months leading to the strike at Vale in 2009, a major confrontation seemed both impossible and inevitable. There was talk almost immediately in the mining industry that, having purchased Inco in 2006, the only way the deal made sense for the Brazilian multinational was to undo the benefits package the Steelworkers had fought for in collective bargaining that ensured retirees a guaranteed income.
Defined benefits, as it was known, protected workers from inflation, from the ups and downs of markets. The nickel bonus, too, which saw workers paid more when nickel prices were high, was also a major obstacle in Vale’s view of things, as were restrictions on using contractors. For the company, these sorts of benefits represented unacceptable long-term costs and risks that threatened the viability of their Canadian purchase.
Anyone who has ever been in a union can tell you that heading into negotiations for a new contract, improvements are the goal, and concessions are the red line that can’t be crossed. For a union such as the United Steelworkers of America, headed by Sudbury’s own Leo Gerard, such concessions were unthinkable.
Electrician Gary Hrytsak was taking a brief nap during a coffee break at the Falconbridge smelter complex about 10:05 a.m. June 20, 1984, when he got thrown off the bench he was on.
“It was an eerie feeling,” recalled the now-retired Hrytsak during his speech at the 35th Workers’ Memorial Day ceremonies at the Caruso Club on Thursday. “You could feel things shaking under your feet … I thought the smelter had blown up.”
Hrytsak, who went on to do compensation, health and welfare work for his union (Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Local 598), said he put on his respirator, went to the electrical shop and telephoned his foreman, only to be told to stay where he was.
Conversations around a kitchen table are a common experience, but playwright Rick Duthie believes that in Sudbury, something has been missing from the discussion.
Duthie’s new play, One Day Stronger, explores Sudbury’s labour history from the perspective of Laurie, anchored to her kitchen table, who relives her childhood memories from the 1958 Inco strike to her present, at the end of the 1978 Inco strike.
With more than 20,000 people on strike in a city of just 75,000, the post-war Inco strikes were a time of tension, disunity, and emotional exhaustion. Duthie’s play explores these events from the intimate perspective of a family, and a girl at two different points in her life.
Veteran USW boss speaks of growing up in Lively, his long career (including dancing with Michelle Obama) and his lasting impressions of a historic strike in Sudbury
After a career in which he rubbed shoulders with world leaders – including U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama – Steelworkers International president Leo Gerard said he’s retiring to his hometown of Sudbury. He said he still has a home and a camp here, despite working out of Pittsburgh.
“My kids and my grandkids are getting old,” said Gerard in a recent interview with Sudbury.com following the announcement last month he’s retiring as of mid-July. “I’ve got a camp on Nepewassi. I didn’t put my boat in for three years.”
The 72-year-old Gerard, who’s served the Steelworkers for more than 50 years, has been the Steelworkers International president since 2001. His successor is Tom Conway, who has served alongside Gerard as Steelworkers International vice-president.
20th annual Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety Conference draws sold-out crowd
The 20th annual Workplace Safety North Mining Health and Safety Conference has been selling out every year, a signal that the industry is taking the subject seriously.
That was the case, again, at the 2018 instalment on April 17 and 18 at the Holiday Inn in Sudbury, with around 300 delegates packing the conference rooms to take part in conversations ranging from technology to mental health and improving leadership.
Mike Parent, director of mining at Workplace Safety North, said he was very pleased with the interest and large crowds.
With 2019 being the 90th anniversary of Ontario Mine Rescue, two members of the organization were in Elliot Lake recently to gather some of its history in preparation for next year’s event.
Ted Hanley, Ontario Mine Rescue general manager at its head office in Sudbury, and a student researcher Justin Konrad, were scanning and photographing many of the exhibits in Elliot Lake’s Mine Rescue Collection at the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum on Jan. 10.
Ken Pierce, Elliot Lake’s local historian and the former regional mine rescue instructor based in the community when the mines were operating, was assisting them. Hanley says he first came to the Elliot Lake and Nuclear Mining Museum two years ago and viewed the Mine Rescue Collection, on Pierce’s invitation.
Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health will receive more than $300,000 in new research funding from the Ontario government. Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault, who is also Ontario’s minister of Energy, made the announcement at the CROSH lab Tuesday.
“Addressing high hazards associated with the operation of mobile equipment was a priority identified in the 2015 Mining Health Safety and Prevention review,” Thibeault said in a release. “Furthermore, addressing indigenous workplace issues will begin a conversation about what is needed to improve occupational health and safety of Indigenous peoples in the workplace.”
In all, Ontario is awarding $310,000 to support innovative research projects and top talent. The funding will assist CROSH researchers as they carry out three projects aimed at addressing mobile equipment hazards, advancing Indigenous occupational health and safety in Northern Ontario, and improving safety for people who work around heavy equipment.
The eyes of SA and the world have turned away from the platinum belt, returning there only when the Marikana massacre is commemorated every August. Yet mine workers there are being continually snuffed out.
Union leaders, fathers, sons and brothers are being gunned down by unknown assailants for reasons that may never surface. Law enforcement authorities have not paid special attention to the region to solve the crimes, despite several pleas by civil society and political formations.
In the past two weeks, the bodies of four regional leaders of the Association of Construction and Mineworkers Union (Amcu) were found riddled with bullets at the Lonmin and Impala mines.
Director of mining, Ontario Operations, Vale Canada Limited delivers controversial presentation on reality of zero harm policies in mining industry
His presentation started with a disclaimer that his views may not represent those of Vale Canada Limited, even joking he may not work for them after what he had to say about zero harm policies in the mining industry.
Alistair Ross, director of mining, Ontario Operations, delivered a comprehensive presentation at the first general membership meeting of 2017 of the Canadian Institute of Mining on Sept. 21 to a packed house at Dynamic Earth in Sudbury.
It focused on the policies that are meant to eliminate injuries and deaths in mining workplaces actually end up becoming harmful policies by adding too much structure and setting impossible goals.
ELLIOT LAKE – A retired miner whose deteriorating health triggered a campaign to investigate the residual effects of McIntyre Powder has died. Jim Hobbs passed away May 24 at the Espanola Nursing Home at the age of 76.
His daughter Janice Martell began an effort to link neurological diseases in former gold and uranium miners to the aluminum dust they were forced inhale by their employers after her father developed Parkinson’s disease.
Hobbs worked at the Quirke II uranium mine in Elliot Lake where the powder was used extensively. Martell’s inability to get workers’ compensation for her father prompted her in 2014 to start up the McIntyre Powder Project, which is a research initiative.
Two men connected to the fight for better health and safety in Ontario’s mines are being remembered today.
France Gélinas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt, stood up in the provincial legislature on Monday to pay tribute to Jean Gagnon, who helped hundreds of fellow Sudbury miners and their survivors battle for compensation benefits, while advocating for the health and safety of workers and victims of industrial disease.
Gagnon died May 1 in Sturgeon Falls. He was 90.
“Jean dedicated over 60 years of his life fighting for health and safety and compensation for his fellow sintering plant workers and their families, all victims of an industrial disease that was only recognized because of his persistence and his determination,” Gelinas told the legislature.