Negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement between Vale Manitoba Operations and hourly workers represented by United Steelworkers Local 6166 have begun but both sides have little information to share at this point in the process, which has a deadline of mid-September.
“As is usually the case, we don’t say much while negotiations are underway,” Vale manager of Indigenous and corporate affairs of Manitoba and Ontario Ryan Land said in an email response to a Thompson Citizen inquiry about when bargaining talks began, if they are ongoing and when the next bargaining sessions are coming up, as well as whether any initial proposals or counter-proposals had been presented.
USW Local 6166 president Warren Luky said July 18 that he was involved in negotiations but did not have any information to provide yet.
The current five-year agreement, which union members approved by an 80 per cent to 20 per cent margin Sept. 15, 2014, expires in a little over six weeks.
The 2014 contract talks marked the fifth time Inco or Vale and the Steelworkers had reached an agreement without a labour disruption since 1999.
At that time, USW Local 6166 represented about 1,400 workers in Thompson, including 1,200 employed by Vale. Now, following Birchtree Mine being placed on care and maintenance status in 2017 and Vale’s smelter and refinery in Thompson permanently shutting down about a year ago, only about 600 Steelworkers are employed by Vale.