UPDATE: Wildcat strike at Long Harbour

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Company preparing application to courts to have protest line opened

Workers at the Long Harbour site lay rebar for one of the buildings at Vale's nickel processing facility in Long Harbour. — File photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A court order has been issued in Supreme Court in St. John’s this afternoon, potentially shutting down a wildcat strike launched this morning.

The order states workers are “restrained” from encouraging or “in any way participating in” the unlawful strike.

They are also not to obstruct others from entering the Long Harbour construction site, according to court documents obtained by The Telegram.

The wildcat strike began this morning, when members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 904, walked off the job and thousands of workers from other unions were kept from entering the site.

“It appears the operating engineers are suggesting their wage rates should be increased to be made comperable with Alberta,” said Vale spokesman Bob Carter.

Yet the Long Harbour project falls under a rare, provincial “special project order,” wherein a collective agreement sees wage rates locked in for the life of the project and workers explicitly agree not to go on strike.

The Resource Development Trades Council negotiated a collective agreement in 2009, on behalf of all 16 unions active at the Long Harbour site. The International Union of Operating Engineers and Local Union 904 is a signatory to that agreement.

“It sets out all the terms and conditions for work — including wages,” Carter said.

Earlier reports had suggested the potential introduction of temporary foreign workers later this summer was also a trigger for the illegal job action.

...

Crane operators working at the Vale construction site in Long Harbour have walked off the job this morning and are keeping other workers from getting onto the site for the morning shift.

The workers are with the operating engineers, who have about 100 people at the site, according to Vale spokesman Bob Carter.

They have set up at the main gate and are keeping out 1,800 to 2,000 other tradespeople scheduled to come on shift.

“It’s an illegal wildcat strike,” Carter said. “We are currently preparing an application with the courts to keep them from preventing other workers coming on site.”

Carter said the company had received no notice whatsoever the workers were going to launch the protest.

He said the root cause of the strike was “unclear,” but reports suggest it is related to temporary foreign workers.

To date, the Vale site has been able to fill positions with workers from this province and across Canada, but workers from outside of Canada have been considered an option as the project moves to its peak construction employment later this summer.

The Long Harbour site currently employs between 4,200 and 4,300 people, Carter said.

 

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Long Harbour, Canada

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Recent comments

  • dogloc
    July 25, 2012 - 14:24

    Since when is a Nflder not worth the same pay on the same jobsite,doing the same work as a foreign worker? There are plenty of workers across Canada who would take the job if given a fair chanch...

  • John E
    July 17, 2012 - 01:37

    I am a Newfoundlander,I have had the experience of working and living in Fort CracMurray,some of you people need to get over it.....this is not Fort McMurray,you will not get the same wages down here.....there is no other place in Canada you can even compare Fort Mcmurray with,, wages or otherwise....I found that,everyone,including Newfoundlanders acted so greedy and selfish in Fort Mac........you people signed the contract and knew what you were getting into....bottom line is,if you don't like the wages here go back to the greedy money pit called Fort McMurray.....there are many other skilled workers here,myself included who will gladly take your place......I could say some not nice comments......I will play nice for now

    • dogloc
      July 26, 2012 - 00:41

      David,if you had a grain you would be dangerous

  • WRONG MEDIA
    July 15, 2012 - 17:10

    see what everyone is missing is that the companies are willing to go beyond the collective agreement and give $12/hr more to people from the US and more money towards LOA n etc . but they wont give it to the workers in province and the operators are susposed to work right next to someone operating the same piece of equipment getting more money than them ?? What do ya do ? get stomped into the ground ? let them walk all over ya ? all they want is equal pay . the media is not covering this

    • David
      July 16, 2012 - 08:56

      What you're missing is a grain of intelligence. There is a signed contract in place. When the contract is up, you come back and rant away.

  • D
    July 15, 2012 - 07:12

    Keep the strick going this is the only way us trades workers will get the wages we should be getting, I left long harbor because of the wages and went to another province where I get good pay , these companies are trying to keep us Down it is about time we stand together to change this

  • Sammy Cole
    July 14, 2012 - 08:52

    All unions,in my opinion, need a wildcat strike every now & then as a reminder to big rich corporations that they can not bully their employees when it comes the time for contract negotiations,whether new or old, or existing. I am a Nflder living in Ontario & a member of CAW Local 88 Ingersoll Ontario. I have seen what happens to unionized workers when our unions get too complacent,a perfect example is Caterpillar here in London Ontario, thousand people thrown out of their jobs i week before Xmas. We are in our own contract year here also and we as Unions need solidarity nowadays more than we ever did in the past 75 years....Bravo to the strikers back in Long Harbour & dont let one scab cross that picket line.

  • Cathy
    July 14, 2012 - 07:49

    You new the wages when you decided to go to work at Vale! 2000 families are going to be affected if this project does not continue! If you want to go to alberta where the cost of living is outrageous and you are away from your family for 1/2 a year--then go!!!! Stop making everyone suffer because of your greed!! Its illegal to strike - fire your asses - fine the union!!! Its not Vales fault if you have issues with your business agent!! You dont even know what your fighting for!!! Sure doesnt sound like it in any cbc news footage i have seen!!!!

    • tired of crap
      July 15, 2012 - 09:52

      hey cathy u must work for vale to make such a moronic comment just to inform u there has been 170 grievances filed against vale in long harbor and yes u r right our ba's did sign the contract out there and so did vale so what makes it right for them to break the contract please get both sides of the story before u comment

  • Bob's Your Uncle
    July 13, 2012 - 07:52

    This is another good reason for those Newfoundlanders that are in AB to stay PUT!! Nothing has changed here in the economic landscape when it comes to wage parity with other parts of the country. Stay were your too!!! I too will be leaving to go back to AB! Enough said.

    • sick of crap
      July 13, 2012 - 12:57

      typical newphies hanging newphies all you people who sent stupid comments would you allow another worker from another province come here to nl and do the same job as you and get paid more (if u actually got a job) id it doubt or u r a complete moron us nflders got to loose the attitude be happy for a job we r sending a message that nflders will not be walked on anymore by big corparations

  • Mary mcgrath
    July 13, 2012 - 06:52

    Point is to get the project going all unions signed a no strike agreement........if those 100 people can illegally stop 1000 from doing their jobs there is really something wrong.......and most people will respect the picket line not because they agree with it but there is too much torment with passing through it.......I think if the 100 want Alberta wages they should move to Alberta.......or do fly ins.....whatever but as of now I would as someone else said fine them all, maybe suspend them for 2 weeks.......this is costing money big time......there's a delay in work, lawyers to appeal to the court, and those 100 should be made to pay..........they are not in a legal position to be on strike, and are just being greedy.......but even though they can illegally strike, the company isn't within its rights to fire them, why should one part of th eunion agreement be upheld but not another.......bunch of nuisances.

  • roy
    July 13, 2012 - 06:24

    sure they can cross the line but no union will cross another unions picket line, that is their code. They signed a contract they should honor it, thats why other companies like Hebron is afraid to commit to getting work done here. I say give the wildcat strikers their walking papers and if necessary bring in outside workers and anyone else who refuses to go to work. Unions are destroying the country. When you compare with Alberta don't use Fort McMurry as the guide compare places outside and compare the cost to live there. Newfoundland workers have the Fort McMurry syndrom.

  • Ed
    July 13, 2012 - 06:22

    Interesting, a contract was negotiated and signed. There are no comments or proof that Vale has not operated as per the signed 2009 agreement. Anyone not back on the job within 24 hours should be fired and replaced. Also the unions involved should be sued for any costs incurred that are related to this work stoppage.

  • Silly Newfies
    July 12, 2012 - 20:33

    Great work ethic newfies. You agreed to the contract. You don't get to back out of it. Want mainland wages? Move.

  • David
    July 12, 2012 - 20:08

    What dunce picked Alberta labourer wages as the base comparison? Why not compare yourselves to North Sea underwater acetylene welders? If you're going to break a valid agreement and go on strike out of petty wage spite, you might as well pick out the best paid... equally irrelevant....peer worker group. Go big or go back to work!

  • Tommy
    July 12, 2012 - 20:07

    Send them all home if they don't want to work, or better yet let them go out west. Unions are great at protecting those who don't want to put in an honest days work for an honest days pay..................period!

  • James
    July 12, 2012 - 19:23

    There is a very good reason why no one from the other unions crossed. I'm would hazard a guess that their own unions gave them strict orders not to cross. If they did, there would have been conseqences and and let's say any individual who crossed would not have a fun time working on the site anymore. I should go out tomorrow at my job and demand that I should be paid equal to someone with a similar job in Alberta (wonder how long it would take to be fired.)

    • Mike Mcdonald
      July 13, 2012 - 19:07

      There is a problem with the wage scale in nfld when a certified labourer in Alberta is making more money per hour than a OE in NL.If this is the case then i believe they havea valid bitch.

  • Steamer
    July 12, 2012 - 17:03

    I always get a laugh out of how quickly some people condemn unionized workers. Cheers to the working people of Long Harbour for their show of solidarity! Supply and demand explanations are always invoked in times when there are too many workers; wages go down. So now that there are so few workers, why are they allowed to resort to this foreign worker cop-out? If they increased the wages, then plenty of skilled Canadian labour would come out of the woodwork. It is a low blow to bring in foreign workers, however... Jerry is right on the money - the site is going to be an environmental disaster, are we going to nickel and dime the employees while we're at it, further reducing any potential upside to this project? I would've been happy years ago if they left the ore in the ground at Voisey's Bay, but now since they've gone full steam ahead we might as well see good wages in the local areas to compensate for future damages... A lot of posters sound like they work in the accounting department at Vale to me...

  • all in
    July 12, 2012 - 16:09

    16 unions active at the Long Harbour site.. united you "stand" or divided you will "fall", it's up to you people to decide if you will stand up for each other or if you will fall to the power of big companies. I think ill call in sick tomorrow after all, i do need a family day.

  • Working Man
    July 12, 2012 - 15:36

    Go back to work or quit and go to Alberta. We are all sick and tired of hearing the Unions crying about their pay & beneifits which are double the average working person. Don't like the job then quit. Lazy & Greedy...........useless Unions! Crane workers sitting on their duff all day, listening to the radio and drinking soda and maybe making a couple lifts a day. Been there.

  • Mike
    July 12, 2012 - 13:04

    Simple. Give them 10 minutes to get back to work or pack your gear...yer done!

    • tired of crap
      July 12, 2012 - 17:04

      some of the comments here is why companies treat us tradesman in nl like a third world nation get your facts before u comment

    • Sammy Cole
      July 14, 2012 - 09:04

      Are you union Mike?..

  • Mike
    July 12, 2012 - 13:03

    Simple. Give them 10 minutes to get back to work or pack your gear...yer done!

  • newfie
    July 12, 2012 - 11:32

    i guess no one has listened to the radio all day , NO ONE IS STOPPED FROM WORKING they chose to be there to back up thier fellow workers ... what needs to be done is never mind the jp having to have these job start putting some of the apper. workers to work never mind taking ppl in from out side when there is so many here that needs the job. how do a app get to be a jp with out experience please tell me .. I AGREE 100% WITH THIS STRIKE ...

  • Just saying....
    July 12, 2012 - 10:40

    There are non-union companies in the province looking for trades persons and they are paying a good hourly rate and they cannot get workers. There are fair non-union companies that need workers and cannot get workers. Tired of hearing I'll come home if I can get a job --- tired of expecting Newfoundland Labrador companies to pay the top dollar as it is paid elsewhere! The rate paid by some non union companies in this province is more than fair to raise a family on. I have raised a family and I have had it pretty good and never left the province, I did what I had to do and I supported our province. The tradespersons in these companies are getting far more than most government workers. Just saying there is work if you want it!!

    • Jerry
      July 12, 2012 - 12:54

      Why should we settle for less? For years NL'ers have been getting shafted by these companies under paying us and giving no benefits. Now that there is a supposed labor shortage they are crying out for people, and finally offering sensible wages. Screw them I'd say if they had paid fairly in the first place they wouldn't be in the squeeze they're in now. For me to move home and take a job union or non union I would have to take a 50% paycut. No thank you, my loyalty to the province isn't that strong. I hope the strike stays on until the cows come home as this project is a mega environmental disaster.

  • Steamer
    July 12, 2012 - 10:07

    I'd be shocked if Vale gives Long Harbour 15-20 years. They are in it for access to the ore, alone... I wholeheartedly support a wildcat strike.

  • Long Harbour
    July 12, 2012 - 09:34

    Get ur facts straight before u start saying we wont let others workers on site. Im down here now!

  • chuck
    July 12, 2012 - 09:17

    i agree with this strike as i am an union person and i have been trying this year or so to get work here. when you make a phone call to the union you are told you are 300 on the list and you have to wait your turn but yet they bring in foreign workers. can somebody explain this!!!!

    • anne
      November 08, 2013 - 20:36

      My question exactly. I worked in a non-unionized camp in Alberta until May. This past year, there have been droves and droves of immigrant people coming in to the camp, while my Canadian friends and I had people who wanted jobs and we recommended them, as was suggested by this company. None of our friends or family (and very experienced people)were hired, but we saw friends and family members coming over from the Philipinnes and elsewhere, high fiving each other, like they all had recommended someone and they were hired. The stories were wild! And so were many of us....PLEASE don't let that happen in NL. I know it already is in the fast food joints. Maybe it's because our young people also know they have to leave to get a good wage. It's time to stop this!! I agree with the strike, illegal or otherwise, because they can't wait for this to go ahead because it would be too late. I also want a job at Long Harbour and was told the same thing....long waiting list of people working in the camps that want to work at home....where are their applications, I wonder?

  • Gerry
    July 12, 2012 - 09:15

    Yeah, just what our province needs after all the BS;... 'wildcat' = illegal.... Fine all the protestors; give the union a hefty fine; jail the leaders, & fire them all...I'm sure there are others out there looking for a good-paying job....

    • Crystal
      July 12, 2012 - 10:09

      You don't know what you are talking about, you must not work on site

  • Kevin Power
    July 12, 2012 - 09:02

    So much for the promise of no labour disruption on this job site.

    • apprentice
      July 12, 2012 - 14:49

      yeah why bring workers in from other countries when you got lots of apprentices looking to go to work but wont hire them because u need to be a journeymen . The unions u will never get in to them because there is always a 3-400 people on the waiting list. Some of the unions wont even answer the phone.

    • a business man
      July 24, 2012 - 06:13

      Good post. Many employers are so sick of the Unions too. I do offshore consulting and many if not most of my clients are looking for me to help them find a workforce that is cheaper and not unionized. I analysis tax and labour policies and provide a recommendation as to where they should move their company. I help the move offshore, and get paid well to do so. Honestly, I would not be so successful if not for the demands of workers who want more money.