Fort Frances: Unifor Workers Ratify New Collective Agreement

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Fort Frances Image: depositphotos.com
Fort Frances Image: depositphotos.com

FORT FRANCES – BUSINESS – Unifor Local 324-99, comprising 150 members, voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new collective agreement with West Fraser Timber covering its Barwick oriented strand board (OSB) mill near Fort Frances. The four-year agreement, which is retroactive to August 1, 2022, provides for a 23% average wage increase over the term with top production rates of pay reaching $43.79/hour and top trades pay reaching $51.60/hour, making it one of the largest wage increases in the forest industry in almost 40 years.

Katrina Peterson, Unifor Local 324 President, hailed the agreement as a solid, long-term deal that achieves some of the largest wage increases ever negotiated at this mill. Other key monetary and language improvements include $5,000 in lump sum payments, an increased $500 annual health spending account, and $250 annual boot allowance.

The new contract is retro-active to August 1, 2022 and remains in place until July 31, 2026. Key terms of the deal include:

–       Salary adjustments of $2.50/hour for all production workers and $3.50/hour for trades over the term;

–       Additional general wage increases of 3% in 2022, $1.30/hour in 2023, 3% in 2024 and $1.30/hour in 2025;

–     Total average wage increase of 23% over term with top production rates of pay reaching $43.79/hour and top trades pay reaching         ​$51.60/hour by the final year of the deal;

–       $5,000 in lump sum payments over the term;

–       Increased $500 annual health spending account;

–       $1.00/hour first responder and $1.00/hour fire team premium;

–       $250 annual boot allowance;

–       Improved vision care coverage to $400;

–       $3,000 orthodontic coverage;

–       $4 increase in meal tickets to $20 meal;

–       New maternity leave top-up program;

–       New Unifor women’s advocate position;

–       Up to 4.25% in additional wage adjustments for some maintenance positions;

–       Improved clothing, vacation, apprenticeship and benefit language;​

–       Employer will make annual $4,000 contribution to Unifor Local 324 training fund.

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