Mine Mill Local 598/CAW president Richard Paquin said “it's been a pretty rough couple of days” for himself and the rest of his bargaining team, but in the end, he figures they've come up with a deal their members will like.
After a marathon bargaining session, the union and Xstrata Nickel inked a tentative deal at around 7:45 a.m. Feb. 1, several hours after the midnight Jan. 31 strike deadline.
The same thing happened during the last set of negotiations between Xstrata Nickel and Local 598 in 2010, when the two sides came to a tentative agreement in the early morning hours of Feb. 1.
The last time Local 598 workers went on strike was in 2004, before Xstrata Nickel bought out Falconbridge Ltd.
Union members will be voting on the contract at the Dowling Community Centre starting at 1 p.m. Feb. 1, with the results likely being released as of about 10 p.m.
Details of the agreement, which is being recommended for acceptance by the bargaining committee, aren't being released until the ratification vote starts this afternoon, Paquin said.
A press release put out by the union Feb. 1 describes the agreement as “fair and equitable.” Paquin said he thinks his 900 members will vote in favour of the deal.
Despite the fact that a deal wasn't reached until the last minute, Paquin characterizes negotiations as “cordial.” However, that doesn't mean they weren't difficult, he said.
“There was some issues on the table we both wanted fairly dearly, but we were able to discuss them amongst both groups and able to come to an understanding that was OK with both groups.”
As it did in 2010, Local 598 decided to hold off on putting up picket lines and to continue negotiations because the two sides were so close to getting a deal and didn't want to break the momentum, Paquin said.
Once a union goes on strike or a company locks out workers, it usually takes a week or two to get back to the table, he said.
“So if you can avoid it, it's best for both parties if you do that,” Paquin said.
When asked why a deal couldn't be reached earlier, he said that very often a strike deadline acts as a motivator in negotiations.
Xstrata Nickel Sudbury operations vice-president Marc Boissonnealt said in a press release the company is pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the union.
“We believe the new offer is fair, and balances the needs of our company with those of employees,” he said, in the press release.
“We can now look forward to working together to pursue our goals in Sudbury, positioning our business for future success. The positive outcome from these negotiations was the result of dedication and commitment on both sides of the bargaining table, and I congratulate both teams for their success.”
Check back to NorthernLife.ca for details of the agreement as they become available.