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Vale 'fired eight' now down to seven

One of the eight Steelworkers Local 6500 members fired during the 2009-10 labour dispute with Vale has decided not to go forward with an arbitration process to get his job back. Adam Cowie was scheduled to undergo arbitration May 17 and June 14-15.
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One of the eight Steelworkers Local 6500 members fired during the 2009-10 labour dispute with Vale has decided not to go forward with an arbitration process to get his job back.

Adam Cowie was scheduled to undergo arbitration May 17 and June 14-15. However, he has decided not to pursue the issue, according to Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand.

Cowie is working in the mining industry in Red Lake, and is “very happy” there, Bertrand said. He's even bought a house in the small, northwestern Ontario community, the union president said.

“He made a decision on his own to stay in Red Lake,” Bertrand said.

The Steelworkers won the right to arbitration for the fired workers in February, after a two-year battle before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The union argued that the company's refusal to allow an arbitrator to decide on the fired workers' fate held up negotiations, and thus, the company bargained in bad faith.

The labour board ruled that Vale had failed to make every reasonable effort to reach a collective agreement, and directed that the fired workers be allowed to go before an arbitrator.

Two of the other fired workers, Ron Breault and Mike Courchesne, also had hearings before an arbitrator this spring – April 25-26 for Breault and May 1-2 for Courchesne.

In both cases, more time was needed for the arbitrations, as the company was not yet prepared to settle the matter, Bertrand said.

An additional day for Courchesne's arbitration has been scheduled for June 25, and Sept. 6 for Breault.

Arbitration dates for the rest of the fired workers are also coming up.

Dan Labelle's case will go before an arbitrator June 5-6. Mike French, Jason Patterson and Patrick Veinot's case will be held together July 11-12, August 17 and 20 and Sept. 4-5. Brian Miller's hearings will take place July 17-18.

The arbitration hearings for French, Patterson and Veinot are being jointly held because they were fired after the same incident, where a man who had crossed the picket line was assaulted.

Bertrand said he's hoping the arbitration process doesn't drag on.

“It's been long enough as it is,” he said. “To me, we should be done the arbitrations and everything by now. Unfortunately we're not. We're just going to have to move forward with the arbitrations, and hopefully they end sooner than later.”

Posted by Mark Gentili

Heidi Ulrichsen

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