Company still has to settle with IBEW, IAM

Although Abitibi-Consolidated has settled with one union, it still has to reach a collective agreement with locals for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers here and in Kenora.
IAM Local 771 and IBEW 1744 spoke with the company last in October after resolving the issues at the mill here.
Mill manager Jim Gartshore said the lull between talks wasn’t due to any bad feelings between the groups but to allow for the company to strike an agreement with the striking Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union first.
“You typically wait for the pattern to be set,” he explained. “And now, the pattern has been set.
“I think things are proceeding normally so far,” he added. “It will be tough, I’m sure, but I hope we can come out to a fair outcome.”
Main table items up for discussion are wages and benefits.
Brian Short, Grand Lodge representative for the IAM in Winnipeg, said yesterday the two unions will be bargaining jointly in next week’s meetings.
“We’re approaching our ongoing negotiations with the full intent of getting a collective agreement,” he said. “We see that being the ultimate outcome.
“It’s with that open mindedness that we are approaching the negotiations from here on in,” he added.
“We are prepared to strike a collective agreement with the company,” echoed Dwayne Sletmoen, president of the IBEW Local 1744. “If things go slowly, we will bargain until it’s done.”
Unlike the CEP strike, which involved a group ratification from 20 mills, the contracts for the affected workers here and Kenora will be voted on for each individual mill.
Sletmoen said it was “interesting” how the negotiations between the IAM and IBEW were almost completely ignored during the CEP strike despite the fact the two unions make up about 300 members of the mill workforce here.
And while people have a right to feel happy the one strike is over, Sletmoen warned people that another picket line could go up if talks break down.
“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, negotiations should proceed fairly smoothly,” he said. “But negotiations are just that–negotiations.”
The IAM and IBEW workers were laid off here and in Kenora by Abitibi during the five-month CEP strike.