Updated: Kruger withdraws from negotiations

Gary
Gary Kean
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Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Mill

Premier Kathy Dunderdale issued the following statement today regarding the ongoing situation at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper:

"I remain extremely concerned about the future of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. I understand the company and the unions have left negotiations, having accomplished as much as they feel was possible, with Kruger’s final proposal now being presented for a vote," wrote Dunderdale. 

"As I’ve indicated before, our government has been very supportive of the mill and its workers and that support will continue once the matters of pensions and labour agreements are resolved and a long-term sustainability plan is in place.

"I strongly encourage both the company and the unions to continue to work through these matters. We all have the same goal here – that Corner Brook Pulp and Paper remain a key employer and driver of economic growth for the western region and our province."

***

Kruger Industrial says the future of the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper mill is now in the hands of its employees.

Kruger issues a release Saturday stating that its deadline for a deal with the union has been extended until June 22 to allow members to vote on its final offer.

The company states its offer, given Friday night, is based on that of its direct competitor.

***

CORNER BROOK  After a week of negotiations, including a final day of constant back-and-forth meetings, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper walked away from negotiations with its unions about 25 minutes before an imposed deadline to reach a deal Friday night.

The three negotiators from Kruger Inc. and a government conciliator left the negotiating room at the Glynmill Inn without making any comment on how things had gone.

About 10 minutes before midnight, the representatives from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions at the mill emerged, leaving national representative Gary Healey to read a prepared statement on their behalf.

“The company has withdrawn from negotiations,” said Healey. “The company has presented us with an offer and the union will now arrange meetings with our membership to explain the offer and conduct a vote.”

Healey was asked to comment on whether or not the unions would be recommending the offer left with them and if the company gave any timeline for when it wanted an answer from the workers. Healey would not elaborate on anything, saying the prepared statement was all he was going to be saying.

He would not say when the vote would be taking place or when the unions would be calling their respective members for meetings to explain what was on the table for them to consider.

The unions at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper have been without a new collective agreement for three years. The latest trend in the troubled newsprint industry, which has seen mills downsized and closed as lately as Friday, has been for unions to accept concessions on wages and other issues.

Kruger has said it wanted a new collective agreement by Friday night or the future of the mill would be uncertain.

It also wants the unions to grant the company a five-year extension to repay the unfunded portion of their pension plan.

The unions rejected the company’s pension request last month.

Around mid-afternoon Friday, the union representing millwrights and skilled trades workers gave their final counter-proposal to the company and left the hotel. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers anticipated hearing back from the company later in the evening.

Ross Edison, president of IAMAW Local 1567, said they had bargained as fairly as possible with the company.

"We have offered up concessions with the company," he said. "We'll just see where we end up. At the end of the day, it will be up to the union membership to decide on a proposal from the company."

Rick Arsenault, the IAMAW's special representative, said his union came "a long way" since negotiations began, but there is only so much the skilled trades workers were willing to give.

"The group I represent are certified tradesmen and there is a great demand in North America for tradesmen, so this group needs to be taken care of ... to keep this mill going," he said. "If they want to compete with tradesmen in North America, we gave them a fair offer to do that."

Organizations: Kruger Inc., Glynmill Inn, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers IAMAW Local 1567

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, North America

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Recent comments

  • a business man
    June 17, 2012 - 11:38

    response to redrantingtory: I agree with many if not all of your comments. Yes, I think the mill is done. It will be closed in the near future. I agree that the closure of the other mills is essentially the writing on the wall. I agree that it is better to have a job with a reduction in benefits than no job at all. However, I will not speak for or against what is happening with the mill right now because everything that is happening is in-line with the closure of the mill, which is in-line with my interests. At this point, I offer support to both the company and the union. I offer such support because as long as both parties sticks to their bargaining positions, the mill may actually close down. I cannot reveal with my interest in the closure of the mill it, but it has nothing to do with the actual pulp and paper industry which is pretty much dead anyway. That said, I stand to make lots of money if the mill closes, so I hereby wish that both the union and the company find the strength and courage to stick to their demands, no matter the cost.

    • lostonawalkabout
      June 18, 2012 - 21:19

      Directed to," A Business Man." You have to be joking in your ruthless and unfounded comments re it is in your best interest to see the CornerBrook Mill or any other mill close. Come out of the closet and disclose just what an idiot you really are. I find it difficult to believe that such garbage as you have written, even gets printed. Your cheap labor, your cheap opinions and your cheap attitude clearly tells it all. I only hope that I am around when your cheap empire collapses. I need a good laugh, even at your expense......

  • Whaddaya At ?
    June 17, 2012 - 04:19

    It was reported in the news only a few days ago that the newspaper industry in North America is in serious trouble and we're now informed that Corner Brook Pulp & Paper is on the verge of bankruptcy. What part of having one foot in the grave do these mill workers not understand ?. Half a loaf is better than none but , leave it to them, they'll likely make it 0 for 3, following Grand Falls and Stephenville.

  • Judy
    June 16, 2012 - 18:12

    Well if the workers vote against it, then they are making their own choice of being unemployed and no good to cry after, if they take it at least they have a job which is better than nothing, i'm sure the pay and benefits are better then some people are receiving in Newfoundland, not everyone even gets a pension here.

  • A Worker
    June 16, 2012 - 17:11

    The Unions, once a great service, have become drunk with thier own assumed power. The public does not support them any longer and sees their greed. A tradesman wants to be paid the same as an equal in Montreal......BUT the cost of living in Montreal is 35% higher than the Corner Brook area. There is crime, unsafe streets, busy roads and houses so close you live like ants. Been there!It does not take a Brain Surgeon to see a difference. Go ahead and watch the "Young Union Guys" screw the older ones and especially the retirees and vote No closing the Mill. Their attitude "We need to stand our ground regrardless of the consequences".. They forget the older workers worked and got what they now get. Gentlemen if you lose your retirement blame the Unions!

    • a business man
      June 17, 2012 - 11:10

      A worker: I agree with your comment but choose to do nothing about it because I have an interest in the mill closing. Your post identifies many of the problems with the situation at the mill, but it is not my problem that I will suggest a solution to because a solution to this matter is not in my interests. So I am just waiting now, but wanted to comment that your post is spot-on-accurate

    • David
      June 17, 2012 - 15:13

      A business man...I've read enough of your posts to conclude that you are a very strange and possibly mentally ill individual. Though your ideas are grossly consistent with capitalism, your rants are actually an embarasssment and a hindrance to the advancement of business in society. If you actually are pro-business, please stop.

  • Cbrooker
    June 16, 2012 - 16:44

    Anyone in the trades knows that the national or international affiliate of the union has an agenda that is not in the best interest of the "poor" sap that works at the mill. I am a union man myself and if the industry that the employee works for is making more money than they can count.....ie Vale Inco, IOC Riotinto, Chevron, etc. then a union is almost essential to ensure that that wealth is filtered down to the worker who often does a hazardous job and is exposed to job related toxins...dust, smoke, welding fumes, VOC's. This whole premise breaks down when the company is not making a boat load of money. At this point employees need to decide for themselves if they will take less to stay at home where they can go salmon fish'n and go out to the cabin for the weekend. 3 weeks in camp in Alberta and 5 days home(2 days travel) doesn't make for the quality of life we have here.

  • I Was Wrong
    June 16, 2012 - 16:16

    It was just a few years back when the mill was the high point in the news for reasons I don’t recall that I said: "I'll give the mill another 10 years and the doors will be closed. It's time for the employees there to get their resumes dusted off and ready to go." Well, I guess I was wrong. I should have said 5 years. With the way technology is going its easy to see why the demand for the news print paper is way way down. I had to get my self retrained about 10 years back and I've been very successful ever since. I had no guarantees, but I didn’t have a choice, I haven’t looked back since. I even moved out of the great 3rd city of Newfoundland. (I now live in the 2nd which is CBS) I know existing employees that have resigned at the mill and gone to greener pastures to the economy of western Canada. I hope more people clue in and do the same. For sure not everyone will work or can work the new life style of rotations back and forth to western Canada, but for those who can, the demand for workers is there. Keep in mind that its not only the trades affected by this, the mill has numerous professional jobs, the local engineering companies, suppliers, etc. As a message to those of you at the mill now, just remember one thing; It’s easier to find work when your working, then when your unemployed. Lots of work out there, but you have to go get it, it won’t come to you.

  • Leo Nolan
    June 16, 2012 - 13:22

    The handwriting is on the wall for unionized workers in dying industries. The jig is up! Take what's offered or face losing the jobs that remain. Others outside of the mill also owe their livelyhoods on the MILL! Think outside of the box (paper that is). Bowater-Mersey in Liverpool NS announced closure yesterday!

    • David
      June 17, 2012 - 15:55

      The Resolute mill management is just bluffing....

  • redrantingtory
    June 16, 2012 - 09:17

    Say goodbye to Corner Brook Paper mill. "Rick Arsenault, the IAMAW's special representative, said his union came "a long way" since negotiations began, but there is only so much the skilled trades workers were willing to give" After another mill was just shut down yesterday in Atlantic Canada I would be very suprised if this mill makes it. Seems the unions would rather have no jobs at all. Yes it hard to give concessions but we all know the state of the paper industry. Wouldn't it be better to have a job with a reduction in benefits, than no job at all? Apparently not. There was nothing learned from Stephenville and Grand Falls? It's so easy for the union to say it gave all it could but tell that to all the people who aren't unionized but are employed in spinoff mill jobs. Seems pretty short sighted to me. The union is willing to close such an important economic engine in the area because "THEY" didn't get what "THEY" wanted. That me mentailty is what kills it all in the end. But hey who knoew? They may suprise me in the end but I doubt it. Having been in on many union negotiations I can hear the rherotic now. Call their bluff and let them close the mill, we aren't giving in and we aren't giving more to the company. In the end it's the company who always wins so you're shooting yourself in the foot.

  • David
    June 16, 2012 - 08:15

    "....there is a great demand in North America for tradesmen....." This is beyond tiresome. Get off your well-paid duffs, find those jobs (wherever the destination of "North America" leads you), and start complaining about your next employer. The unions always cry 'bluff'...well, they're right. But it isn't the company.

    • Patrick Guilfoyle
      June 16, 2012 - 11:07

      A job is better than no job. Enough said.