Mill workers ink deal with Tolko

It’s one of the more lucrative deals in recent history for United Steelworkers members.

The steelworkers, which includes about 500 North Okanagan workers at Tolko’s sawmill and plywood plant in Armstrong, veneer mill in Lumby and forest techs and road crews that work out of Tolko’s Lumby office, reached a tentative agreement on Friday with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association on a five-year collective bargaining agreement retroactive to July 1.

The agreement calls for percentage wage increases in each of the five years with nothing lower than 2.5 per cent, significant pay enhancements for tradesmen, health and welfare benefits improvements and stabilizing the union members’ pension plans.

It also addresses the union’s main concern regarding proposed plans for new shift schedules.

“The No. 1 issue was giving up consecutive days off,” said Pat McGregor, president of Local 1-423, whose membership voted 97.5 in favour of strike action if contract demands were not met.

“The employer dropped that and there is no new alternate shifting patterns in our collective agreement.”

Ratification voting will take place over the next couple of weeks with McGregor recommending acceptance. The previous deal expired June 30.

“Overall it’s one of the most lucrative agreements we’ve had in a while,” he said. “I think it’s a fair deal and I hope that our membership gives us a positive vote on it and go from there.”


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