IOC, Union reach tentative deal

James McLeod
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It looks like the Iron Ore Company (IOC) will avoid a strike in Labrador West, with the United Steelworkers union recommending its members accept a tentative contract deal.

The contract was presented to members Friday, and will be voted on next Friday.

If the union members take it, they will get a four per cent wage increase each year over the life of the six-year contract.

They will also get a $3,000 signing bonus, and on top of that they'll get a $5,000 ratification bonus if they accept the offer next Friday.

"We're very pleased," said Heather Bruce-Veitch, director of external relations for IOC.

As recently as earlier this week, the union leadership was planning on presenting an offer to their members Friday and recommending that they vote to reject it.

However, Thursday evening the company got in touch with the union and they negotiated through the night and hammered out a deal ahead of the Friday morning meeting.

Ron Thomas, president of the Steelworkers local, said they had been looking for a shorter contract, but he hopes the membership will accept what they're presenting.

"Usually it goes through when you get a recommendation, but we've got a few members who are a little bit upset - they were expecting a bit more - and some people are upset about the fact that it's a six-year deal," he said. "If they don't want to accept that deal, we'll go back at it again."

One of the contentious issues during the negotiations was IOC's request to allow fly-in,fly-out workers at the mine.

"It would destroy this town. I mean, this is an established town and we wanted to keep it as a town," Thomas said.

"It was something that the company wanted, but it was definitely something that the company didn't need."

Union leaders said that would kill the town of Labrador City, and they were supported by municipal leaders and their local MHA. Thomas said he was disappointed that they didn't get support from Labrador MP Peter Penashue.

The fly-in, fly-out provisions have been dropped from the current contract proposal. Twitter: TelegramJames


Organizations: Iron Ore Company, United Steelworkers union, Steelworkers

Geographic location: Labrador West, Labrador

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