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Steelworkers, SNOLAB at ‘an impasse’ in contract talks

Local 2020-59 members reject latest contract offer from deep underground research facility
Pictured is part of the SNO+ experiment at SNOLAB is an upgrade to the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment. SNOLAB and members of USW Local 2020 are at an impasse in contract talks that have been ongoing since April 3.

SNOLAB and members of USW Local 2020 are at an impasse in contract talks that have been ongoing since April 3.

On Friday, Local 2020-59 members rejected the latest offer from SNOLAB, a scientific research facility located two kilometres below the ground at Vale’s Crieighton Mine, calling it a “substandard” offer that isn’t fair and doesn’t recognize cost of living.

“SNOLAB bills itself as a ‘world-class science facility,’ but its actions at the bargaining table show that it isn’t too concerned about the retention of world-class employees,” said Tracy Nguyen, a USW staff representative involved in the contract negotiations for the 52 members at SNOLAB, in a USW news release.

“SNOLAB has had the opportunity to show our members that their unique knowledge and experience is valued. Instead, not only have they offered wages well-below today’s realities, they actually have demanded concessions from workers.”

The union said SNOLAB received $2 million in public funding in October, 2023, in addition to an initial $12 million in funding from the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. It quoted SNOLAB’s Executive Director Dr. Jodi Cooley from that announcement, saying the funding “will allow SNOLAB to continue creating jobs and attracting the best and brightest minds to Canada.”

For SNOLAB’s part, Cooley, the executive director, said the lab’s operational costs are fixed for six years, and in the past 18 months management has been reduced from five positions to four and administrative support has been reduced, all in an effort to save money and lower the lab’s operating costs.

“Despite this fixed funding, we value our employees and their contributions,” Cooley said in a news release. “We demonstrate this by offering strong compensation and benefits packages.  We are assured that SNOLAB’s compensation is very competitive for the innovation sector.” 

SNOLAB said it employs 129 workers, 52 of whom are Steelworkers. Unionized wages range from $43,440 to $81,000. 


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