Breathing a Sigh of Relief
VANCOUVER - Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada members in three BC coastal communities are resting a bit easier today with the results of a vote to restructure the debt for Catalyst Paper.
"This is very good news for everyone in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River," states CEP Regional Vice President Jim Britton. "Last December CEP members at all 5 locals took the lead in working with Catalyst to find creative solutions to their financing challenges. It been a long road to get to where we are today and I am very proud of the leadership demonstrated by our locals and commend them for their commitment to their members and the communities."
Negotiations with the unions began in December, 2011 with the final agreement being completed on March 12, 2012. The agreement includes protection for retiree benefits and health and welfare benefits.
"Our members were key to getting a deal done for ourselves and for our retirees," said CEP Local 76 President Mike Verdiel. "Between the two unions, CEP and PPWC, our contribution, in reduced wages and benefits, totals $101 million over 5 years. This is about $18,000 per member."
"We are breathing easier, but are not completely out of the woods," states CEP Local 686 President Roy Plotniko. "There are a few more details that the company has to take care of, but our members are feeling a lot better about the future for everyone involved."
"We went into this process with the goal of being successful," said CEP Local 1132 President Fraser McQuarrie, "and our hard work and the determination of Catalyst has paid off. We are pretty happy."
"This should bring some stability to our mills," said CEP Local 1 President Eldon Haggerty. "Now we can focus on what can be done to ensure a healthy future for all three communities."
On Monday, June 25, Catalyst Paper creditors voted 99 per cent in favour of a plan to restructure the company's debt.
CEP represents 30,000 forest workers across Canada, including the members of Locals 1 and 76 in Powell River, Locals 592 and 686 in Port Alberni, and Local 1132 in Crofton, BC.