Labour briefs

TWU, Steelworkers talk merger • MTS, union reach tentative deal • Cargojet pilots ratify first agreement • Steelworkers ratify 3-year deal with Essar • Strike over at Newfoundland airport

TWU, Steelworkers talk merger

TORONTO — The 13,000-member Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) and the United Steelworkers (USW) have commenced merger talks.

"I am pleased that our union’s local leaders from across Canada have voted for us to work toward a merger with the USW that will improve the working lives of our members and their families," said TWU national president Lee Riggs.

"There is a real sense of unity in our union today following the vote of our delegates to start merger talks with the USW."

Both sides are excited about what we they can build together.

"We’ll communicate our shared, positive vision for the labour movement: global, outward-looking and focused on concrete action. We are optimistic about the future and we’re honoured to work with the TWU," said USW national director Ken Neumann.

Discussions between the two unions aim to yield a tentative merger agreement that will be brought to all TWU members for approval in a democratic referendum vote this fall.

The two unions intend the merger agreement to include strong, mutual commitments in bargaining, education, organizing and legislative action.

"In this merger process, each and every TWU member has a vote. This will build a better union for every member. And with the USW’s extensive international network of allies and resources, our newly merged union can become a global leader in the telecommunications sector," Riggs and Neumann said in a joint statement.

TWU has 13,000 members across Canada and USW has 225,000 members.

MTS, union reach tentative deal

WINNIPEG — MTS, the Winnipeg-based operating division of Manitoba Telecom Services, has reached a new tentative agreement with its union, the company said.

The agreement covers about 1,200 employees in Manitoba in professional and managerial roles. The workers are represented by the Telecommunications Employees Association of Manitoba (TEAM) union.

The agreement is subject to ratification by TEAM members, the company said. The union is recommending approval of the agreement. Results of the ratification vote will be known later this month.

Earlier this month, the workers voted to authorize strike action for the first time in the union’s 40-year history. The earliest a strike could have taken place was July 16.

Cargojet pilots ratify first agreement

TORONTO — Pilots at Cargojet Airways in Toronto represented by the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) have "overwhelmingly" ratified a first collective agreement, according to the union.

The new deal includes new jobs, wage increases, improvements to pilot scheduling, pensions and sick days, the CAW said in a press release.

"It is anticipated that these new conditions will reduce the potential of fatigue by a considerable degree," said Capt. Colin Braizer, bargaining committee chairperson.

The top of the captain pay scale is rising six per cent, and up to 1.5 per cent per year over the term of the contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013, the union said.

Cargojet Airways operates a fleet of Boeing 727, 757 and 767 freighters across Canada and around the world and employs more than 70 airline pilots who are members of CAW Local 7378.

Steelworkers ratify 3-year deal with Essar

SAULT STE. MARIE, ONT. — United Steelworkers (USW) members in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., have come to a three-year agreement with Essar Steel Algoma.

The agreement between Essar and USW Local 2251 in Sault Ste. Marie maintains cost-of-living adjustments and improves a number of benefits. The contract term is from Aug. 1, 2013 to July 31, 2016.

USW Local 2251 members will see increased coverage for visits to chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists and naturopaths, as well as an increase in lifetime major medical coverage for active employees and retirees. Retired steelworkers will also see increased reimbursement for the cost of glasses and hearing aids.

Along with cost-of-living adjustments, employees will receive a lump-sum payment in the second year of the contract and wage increases in the third year of either two per cent or three per cent — depending on the steelmaker’s adjusted annual income.

The agreement outlines the company’s commitment to a defined benefit pension plan and provides four "windows" for retirement during the life of the contract.

Strike over at Newfoundland airport

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The St. John’s International Airport Authority and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) have reached a tentative agreement that would end a nearly 10-month strike.

"I am pleased that the St. John’s International Airport Authority and PSAC have worked with the federal mediators to achieve a tentative agreement," said Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt. "I look forward to the official ratification of this collective agreement, which would put an end to this dispute."

The previous collective agreement covering approximately 90 clerical, office, maintenance and fire safety employees at the St. John’s International Airport Authority in Newfoundland and Labrador expired on Nov. 30, 2009.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service helped both parties throughout the dispute. It was established to provide dispute resolution and prevention assistance to trade unions and employers under the jurisdiction of the Canada Labour Code.

The tentative agreement must be formally ratified by both parties, and until the ratification process is complete, the details of the agreement will not be made public.

"We look forward to our employees returning to work in the near future and getting back to normal operations," the airport authority said in a release.

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