Picketlines are up at Vale’s mines, mill and smelter in Sudbury as the union representing 2,400 workers have voted down a tentative agreement with the mining giant.
United Steelworkers Local 6500 says in a statement on its website that 87 per cent of members cast ballots in a ratification vote Monday night and 70 per cent rejected the deal the union bargaining committee was recommending.
“Thank you for your overwhelming support to return us to the bargaining table,” reads the statement.
“We are newly energized with this result and are looking forward to bringing your message to the company to let them know our work is not complete.”
In a release, Vale says “contingency plans have been implemented to preserve the integrity and safety of the plants and mines” in Sudbury.
Meanwhile, Vale refinery workers in Port Colborne, Ont. represented by Steelworkers Local 6200 accepted the new agreement.
“The company’s offer, and the union bargaining team’s endorsement of that offer, reflected months of hard work and commitment on both sides and a sincere demonstration to favourably conclude negotiations,” Vale says in a statement.
“Vale is committed to the long-term sustainability of its base metals business and its Ontario operations. The company will continue discussions with USW in the hopes that both sides can find a path towards a ratified agreement in the near-term.”
The tentative five-year contract would have seen workers receive a 4 per cent pay raise over the next four years, plus $2,500 recognition pay for the past year working through the COVID-19 pandemic and a $3,500 signing bonus.
The deal would have also seen some changes to pensions and benefits for mine, mill and smelter workers.
This is the first time USW 6500 members have been on the picketline since the year-long strike ended in July 2010, closing one of the longest periods of labour peace in the company’s history.