United Steelworkers in B.C. Interior return strike vote

Job action could affect 3,500 union members across three locals in Kelowna, Kamloops and Kootenays

Union membership with United Steelworkers in the southern interior returned a 98 per cent strike mandate over the last 10 days of balloting by three locals in Cranbrook, Kelowna and Kamloops.

The vote was conducted by members with USW Local 1-405 (Kootenays), USW 1-423 (Kelowna) and USW1-417 (Kamloops).

The bargaining committee will return to Kelowna on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with hopes to negotiate a contract with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association – Southern Employer, according to a bulletin released by Local 1-405.

Mills covered under the collective agreement include Galloway Lumber; Stella-Jones Pole Plant; Canfor Elko; Canfor Woodlands (Trucking; Cranbrook Mechanic Shop; Wood Chipper at Skookumchuk; not the pulp mill itself); Canfor Radium; Louisiana Pacific – Golden; Interfor – Castlegar.

Roughly 800 members are employed with those operations across the East and West Kootenay, and 3,500 across the southern interior of the province.

Negotiations have stalled what the USW calls a concession list from the IFLRA, that include issues such as health and welfare benefit changes, alternate shift schedules, extending the probationary period and more.

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