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CAW Local Branch Fends Off Pension Cuts, Ending Evraz Pipe Lockout in Canada

31.05.2012

With an 80% approval vote last week, 105 members of Canadian Auto Workers Local 551 in Camrose, Alberta, ratified a four-year labour agreement, ending a near three-week by Evraz North America, a subsidiary of the multinational steel and mining company, Evraz Group.

The union won wage and pension increases, and agreed to a modified pension plan for new hires, the main issue in the dispute. (See ICEM report from 16 May.) CAW Local 551 preserved a hybrid blend of a defined benefit and defined contribution pension scheme that will be fully paid by the company.

“The overriding factor in agreeing to the settlement wasn’t anything to do with money,” said CAW National Representative Todd Romanow, “but rather the company agreeing to keep the defined pension plan in the agreement for new hires and the company agreeing to limit supervisors and foremen working outside the bargaining agreement to hold their seniority rights for one a one-year time frame, while previously it was open ended.”

  

Todd Romanow 

The Evraz Camtose facilities include two pipe-making plants, one making up to 16-inch electric-resistance piping and casing for oil drilling and transport of oil and natural gas, the other producing larger tubular piping for transmission lines.

CAW Local 551 won a 4.5% wage increase over the four years, as well as C$3 in increases on the pension scheme for current workers over the term of the contract. The first year 1.5% wage increase is retroactive to 1 February 2012 – the date a prior labour agreement expired – and further 1.5% increases in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Workers also receive a C$1,000 ratification bonus.

The deciding factor in workers ratifying the agreement, said Romanow was the limitation of one year for supervisors and foremen to return to the bargaining unit with full seniority. 

Evraz North America is based in Chicago, USA, and Luxembourg-based Evraz Group is controlled by holding companies primarily owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, also owner of UK’s Chelsea football club of the English Premier League.