Northwestern Ontario’s recovering forestry sector continues to be reflected in solid contracts for mill and logging workers, even though it sometimes involves tough negotiations.
About 550 plant and woodlands employees who work at Dryden’s Domtar pulp mill voted in favour of a new four-year collective agreement this week that provides decent wage increases and $1,000 signing bonuses.
Unifor, the workers’ union, said the lucrative deal was reached after a threat of a strike and demands by Domtar that employees agree to concessions in their contract.
“We’re pleased (workers) not only resisted all concession demands once again, but they also achieved key (contract) improvements,” Dryden-based Unifor staff rep Stephen Boon said in a news release.
Boon said the concessions being sought included proposed reductions to dental and health coverage, as well as downgrading pensions from defined benefit to defined contribution plans.
The workers had been set to strike by May 9.
Under the new contract, wages are to rise two per cent each year. Benefits include pension improvements, upgraded safety-boot and eye-glasses allowances and increases to over-time banking provisions. The contract is retroactive to September, 2014.
Top hourly pay for mill employees is to increase to $41, with the top rate for woodlands to rise to $36 per hour.
Unifor said the contract is consistent with collective agreements that have been reached at other Eastern Canada pulp mills.