Tuesday, August 17, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 33 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“The Crowsnest Pass is like nothing else I’ve been in.”
- Daniel Scott  
- on community mountain   
bike trail project   
Negotiations stalled between union and Teck
 
Employees of the Coal Mountain mine, owned by Teck, officially went on strike at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 6, as no new contract agreement has been reached. It is unknown for how long the two sides will remain apart.
The 160 employees in Local 7292 of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) have since taken up picket lines at Coal Mountain and other Teck mines in the region. The union has been without a contract since their previous contract expired in December of 2009, but negotiations with the company are reportedly at a standstill with the two sides remaining far apart.
Bob Burchell, chief negotiator for Local 7292 and an International Representative for the UMWA, says that Teck would not respond to any of the union's main issues and that Teck has no desire to negotiate. He says that the union's only alternative was to go on strike. A total of 105 of the 160 employees took part in a strike vote, and all voted in favour of striking.
The union issued its strike notice on July 1, and on Tuesday, August 3, they gave a 72-hour warning of an impending strike. Burchell says that the company's position did not change, and the union went on strike after the 72 hours were up.
The Coal Mountain employees have a number of issues they wish to see addressed, says Burchell, mostly related to a gap in wages and benefits between Coal Mountain and employees at other Teck Coal mines in the area. The union says that their previous contract saw them receive, on average, nine percent lower wages than other mines, with less vacation time, less insurance benefits, less disability benefits, less contribution to RSP plans, less for working more than 12 hours in a day, less break time, and a handful of similar items.
 
Burchell says that they are not seeking absolute parity with the other mines, but wish to close the gap that exists. He says that Teck had offered a 12.5 percent increase over five years with no retroactive pay, but that Line Creek's latest contract gave them 15 percent over five years including retroactive pay, which would see Coal Mountain's gap growing even larger over time.
He says that more than 100 of the Coal Mountain employees live in Crowsnest Pass.
Burchell says that with the price of coal having gone up again, Coal Mountain has been making more money for the company but is still paid less. He says that the workers are ready for a long strike if necessary.
He adds that he feels the employees of the other area mines are supportive of their efforts. "But they can't do anything because of separate unions," he says, "and we don't expect them to."
Nic Milligan, Manager of Community and Government Relations with Teck, confirms that there are currently no meetings scheduled between the two negotiating committees.
"Our position remains unchanged," says Milligan. "We would very much like to resolve this issue." He says that Teck wants to find the best solution for the workers, the company, and the company's shareholders.
The strike is not having any effect on Teck's other mines in the area, he said.
Coal Mountain was scheduled to produce 2.5 million tonnes of coal in 2010, but how much actual production is reduced from that number will depend on the duration of the strike.
According to Milligan, Coal Mountain produces primarily PCI coal, which stands for pulverized coal injection. The coal is crushed into a powder and injected into blast furnaces.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 33 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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