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Mill workers ratify Interfor deal with 'solid gains', union says

Top trades pay to reach $48.90 per hour in the final year of five-year contract ratified this weekend
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Mill workers in Sault Ste. Marie have ratified a new five-year contract that their union leadership says includes some of the largest financial gains in the industry in years.

At union meetings Friday and Saturday, about 100 members of Unifor Local 1359 voted 80 per cent in favour of a new five-year collective agreement with Interfor.

The workers are employed at Interfor’s I-Joist mill in the Sault. 

“As indicated by the strong ratification result, our Sault Ste. Marie members were very pleased with the solid gains secured in this new collective agreement,” Stephen Boon, Unifor national representative said in a news release.

“This deal provides long-term stability for Interfor while providing our members with some of the largest monetary increases in the forestry sector in several decades.”

Added Mary Casola, Unifor Local 1359 vice-president: “This new deal clearly achieved our objectives for bargaining and most importantly, it provides much  improved contract language and major monetary gains that will help address the high cost of inflation impacting our members.” 

The new contract is retro-active to May 16 and remains in place until May 15, 2027. Key terms of the deal include:

  • up to 27.6% increase in top production wages over the term of contract
  • up to 26.4% increase in licensed millwright wages with top trades pay reaching $48.90 in the final year of deal
  • double time for unscheduled overtime on Sundays
  • one additional floating holiday up to four per year
  • increased sick time up to three sicks days per year
  • $0.10 to $0.12 increase in shift differentials up to $1/hour
  • 62.5% increase in employer pension contributions up to 6.5% of earnings
  • increased statutory holiday pay
  • $5 increase in meal allowances to $25
  • ability to break up two weeks of vacation into single days
  • improved vacation pay with new 6th week of vacation at 24 years of service
  • $50 increase in both regular and winter boot allowances up to $200 each 
  • improved job posting and relief language
  • $75 increase eyeglass coverage and new fully paid eye-exam coverage
  • $100 increase in maintenance tool allowance to $500/year
  • new maternity leave top-up program
  • new Unifor women’s advocate position
  • increased paid education leave to $0.03/hour
  • commitment to maintain a cooperative and progressive relationship with Indigenous peoples 

"I commend the hard work of the bargaining team in securing an industry leading contract for our Local 1359 members at Interfor,” Local 1359 president Cathy Humalamaki said. 

“I wish all the best to our members and their families for the upcoming holiday season and I am sure the many gains achieved in this new deal will contribute to an even more festive celebration for our forestry members as we enter 2023.”

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