CEP voting results expected tomorrow

Voting by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers is expected to finish by 11 a.m. (CST) tomorrow, at which time it will be known if the union accepted the latest contract offer from Abitibi-Consolidated.
The two sides reached a tentative agreement just after midnight Saturday in Montreal. Members of CEP Local 92 voted here Monday while Local 306 cast its ballots yesterday.
Cecil Makowski, CEP’s vice-president for Ontario, said he wouldn’t release any details on the tentative agreement until after all of the membership has voted.
“All I’m going to say is we’re recommending the agreement, and that leads to certain conclusions, doesn’t it?” he said Monday from his Toronto office.
“You probably realize we don’t give our recommendations lightly,” he remarked.
Susan Rogers, vice-president of corporate communications for Abitibi, wasn’t saying much about the deal, either. But she did say both parties were feeling very positive as they left the bargaining table.
Mike Drazenovich, president of CEP Local 92, reiterated Makowski’s statement that no results from voting will be released until all 10 mills are in.
Local mill manager Jim Gartshore could not be reached for comment.
The deal came one day shy of five months since the mill workers walked off the job June 15.
The union overwhelming rejected the company’s previous offer late last month–a proposed six-year deal that included a one-percent wage increase effect May 1, ’98 and again May 1, ’99, followed by a two percent increase in each of the three following years and then a 2.5 percent hike in 2003.
That offer also included a $1,000 signing bonus.
Abitibi had said that offer would give job security, a competitive wage increase, and an improved pension plan but the union had argued its members would have to foot the bill for that pension plan increase.