Essar Steel Algoma's largest union has called a strike vote for Tuesday, Feb. 28.
United Steelworkers Local 2251 is advising its 2,100 members that the vote will be taken at the Marconi Hall on that date, from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The union will provide an update on negotiations at special membership meetings at the Quattro Conference Centre on Thursday Feb. 23, at 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Until last week Local 2251 had been fighting assertions by Essar Algoma that their collective agreement terminated on July 31, 2016.
The union has now withdrawn an Ontario Labour Relations Board complaint and a Superior Court motion, and is now indicating its acceptance that the contract has expired.
Yesterday, the union proposed continuing negotiations and it's believed that talks are currently underway.
"Clearly, we now have to conduct a strike mandate vote," says Local 2251 president Mike Da Prat.
"We are well beyond the termination date of the collective agreement and negotiations did not take place prior to the termination of the collective agreement."
Before employees can strike, Ontario's Labour Relations Act requires that a strike vote be taken by secret ballot after the collective agreement expires.
More than 50 per cent must vote in favour of a strike.
A strike may consist of:
- a cessation of work
- a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees in combination or in concert or in accordance with a common understanding
- a slowdown or other concerted activity on the part of employees designed to restrict or limit output
All members of Local 2251 have the right to participate in the strike vote and must have ample opportunity to cast a ballot at a reasonably convenient time and place.
Strike votes are not unusual in collective bargaining situations and don't necessarily mean that a strike must occur.