Cuts unnecessary: union

Gary
Gary Kean
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The president of the union that had nearly a quarter of its members told their jobs have been cut, or soon will be, says Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is making a mistake.

This 2011 file photo shows the inside of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper.

A dozen of the 50 members from Local 1567 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers were called into the human resources office at the paper mill Wednesday. Eight of them were told their jobs were gone, while the other four were told theirs would soon follow.

Theirs were among a total of 46 positions throughout the mill that were either cut, reduced to casual pool status or which are vacant and won’t be filled in the aftermath of meetings between mill unions and the company Wednesday.

Ross Edison, Local 1567’s president, said it is mind-boggling that workers in his union have been deemed no longer necessary. He said his fellow machinists, millwrights, mechanics and welders worked the rough equivalent of one and a half years last year because there was so much to be done.

“All our guys could work whatever overtime they wanted, but there wasn’t one word said about labour costs last year,” Edison said Thursday. “Not once did (the company) come down and tell us we were working too much overtime or that labour (cost) was running too high. The only reason we were in there to work is because they needed us. Now, all of a sudden, they don’t need us? It makes no sense really.”

The huge backlog of maintenance work has not gone away, said Edison. Even if the mill’s many moving parts were to work perfectly for the next while, Edison said there is still six months worth of work.

More of that work is going to be done by contractors. One employee who got a pink slip Wednesday told The Western Star he saw a contractor doing his union job as he made his way to be told the bad news.

Edison said most of the contractors being hired are actually retired mill employees.

“If you got to trim the fat, you trim the fat, but that’s not what’s happening here,” he said. “What they’re doing is replacing one type of job with another type of job.”

Even more insulting is the news that salaried managers at the mill were recently given bonuses, he said.

“Can you tell me how providing a bonus is a cost-saving measure? You can’t,” said Edison. “There’s no explanation for it.”

The skilled workers the company is giving up on, said Edison, will be difficult to make up for. That, he said, will be a blow to the mill’s efforts to enhance the efficiency of its production.

“Some of these guys have 25 or 30 years in the mill and you will find no better workers in Canada,” he said. “How are you going to attract that kind of calibre employee back to this town and to this company? It won’t be done. I think the right decision for the mill is to keep these highly skilled tradesmen in place to keep the efficiency of the mill where it needs to be.”

The company, said Edison, never approached the union about its ideas on how they could cut costs or improve efficiency.

Many believe the pressure being applied on the unions is a tactic for outstanding labour contracts at the mill, which expired in May 2009. The machinists’ union has filed for conciliation as there have been no developments since it and the company exchanged proposals last summer.

The workforce reductions don’t even begin, added Edison, to address the looming problem of unfunded pension liabilities.

The cuts could also be a signal for help from government. Edison believes any government money should come with certain strings attached.

“There shouldn’t be a penney going to Kruger until they open up their books,” he said. “There should be jobs attached to any money given. They have to have some sort of guarantees.”

Kruger has promised the cuts on its labour costs, which it says are 40 per cent higher than the North American average. Edison said that does not represent a complete picture and it’s not fair to compare Corner Brook’s mill to others that do not have their own wood rooms, thermo-mechanical pulping processes and shipping staff.

“Break down all the costs from labour to power and mechanical costs and see how we compete,” he said. “I’ll put my guys against anybody.”

Organizations: International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, North American

Geographic location: Western Star, Canada, Corner Brook

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  • joefixit
    April 17, 2012 - 05:00

    CB has lost 10,000 mostly young citizens in 10 years and is well on its way to losing another 10k in this 10 year period. Why? No large employer in his right mind will come here, or stay here, after reading the comments in this "Cuts unnecessary" piece. In a job market where 50% are likely employed by a government, or a gov't bailed out business, what else can our kids look forward to other than LEAVE as soon as they finish school?

  • Workers are not the most valuable asset of a company, technology is far more important.
    February 06, 2012 - 13:57

    Mike said "if all unions and their members in canada would stay home or walk the streets for three days and i mean everybody then we would have the best strong hold that the compies and goverments has seen in a long time"...........yes you are right.....if all the workers do not report to work, companies have a big problem. But rather than just accept it, I took a look at the problem, and the solution was to revamp my business operations in such a way that would take the ability of workers from hurting my income. So first, I bought a very expensive piece of technology that replaced the need for some workers. After learning how to use the technology, we used this technology to eliminate the jobs of close to 300 workers. We were always profitable, but still invested 7 figures into technology that was replace the workers. Then, I move as much of the work as possible that was still being done by actual workers to right to work states. No need to engage in bargaining with workers, no need to provide health benefits or CPP, and no wage increases.....I just offer minimum wage, and if the workers don't like it they can quit. If a worker don't show up for work, they are fired with cause, no questions asked. IF there was a strike, the replacement workers could be working in a few hours. Now, no one can stop my operations. Not union, not workers, no one. Even every worker in North America were to go on strike, then I could just push a few keys, using the expensive technology I have bought, and have the work of my north american workers done by worker in my Asian office within a few seconds. Lastly, I only choose to invest in companies where the work can be done anywhere in the world. I insist on having total control of the company. I wouldn't invest in mining because the resource is in the ground, so I cannot get around the workers and unions having power. SO I just don't invest. I only invest in operations where it is impossible for workers to stop my earnings. And I only invest in states where the law guarantees that I have power that prevents workers from stopping my earnings.

    • Blown away
      May 12, 2012 - 23:17

      And you sir are a prime example of why there are Labour laws, safety laws and the unfair distribution of assets on this planet. Thank God you don't need employees, they'd probably have you knee Whacked!!! It's a good thing you don't NEED HR skills, because you have none. And if you knew Anything about technology you would know its About impossible to rebuild 100 yr old mill so it's "human free" especially before the industry "dies"......

    • Blown away
      May 12, 2012 - 23:41

      Lets see how many of your robots have 15000.00 to lend you when ur down and out. Each. Think about it then learn the star spangled banner..... Bye bye. AND good luck. Because everyone loves America these days...... War needs technology bud, Canada ain't really into that. So adios amigo

  • Companies dont want works who think they run things
    February 06, 2012 - 13:24

    cindy said "IF ALL THE UNIONS IN CANADA WOULD GO ON STRIKE FOR THREE DAYS IT WOULD SURE SHOW ALL THE BIG COMANYS AN GOVERMENTS JUST WHO IS RUNNING THINGS AND JUST MAYBE ALL OUR JOBS COULD BE SAVE" ..................See Cindy, when you say "show...who is running things", it makes me glad that I don't employ as many Canadians as I used to. Why would I want a company where the workers run things....why would I want a workforce that runs things? I am the boss, the owner, and I run things. Do you know what would happen if all the unions go on strike? I would call the employers and offer to find a way to do the work for less. I would offer to do the work from on of my American offices and do my best to undercut to union....WHY? not because I hate them or want them to fail, but because I can offer a competitve solution to union labour rate and striking workers. Your statement about showing companies who run things is a good reminder why I will never invest another dollar in this country unless I absolutely have to.

    • Blown away
      May 12, 2012 - 23:22

      And yet those friggin humans keep putting all those commercials about starving people in Africa....... Let me guess.... Not a big fan of Bob Marley? Or Jesus for that matter.

  • cindy
    February 05, 2012 - 19:36

    IF ALL THE UNIONS IN CANADA WOULD GO ON STRIKE FOR THREE DAYS IT WOULD SURE SHOW ALL THE BIG COMANYS AN GOVERMENTS JUST WHO IS RUNNING THINGS AND JUST MAYBE ALL OUR JOBS COULD BE SAVE

  • mike
    February 05, 2012 - 16:57

    if all unions and their members in canada would stay home or walk the streets for three days and i mean everybody then we would have the best strong hold that the compies and goverments has seen in a long time

  • I can you tell me how providing a bonus to managers is a cost-saving measure.
    February 05, 2012 - 16:19

    Providing a bonus to a manager is a cost-saving measure when that bonus is tied to the reduction of jobs or hours. A bonus can be a cost-savings measure when the manager finds the way to get done using temp agencies and contractors instead of full-time workers who get wage increases, benefits and pension contributions. Every savings in terms wages, benefits paid to workers, and pensions paid for workers results in increased profits for the company. It then follows that the company would reward the managers who made the savings possible, even if those savings are the result of workforce reductions. A failure to reward managers who cut jobs would be corporate greed, and therefore rewarding mangers who cut jobs is fair.

  • Melevin Milktoast
    February 04, 2012 - 06:16

    I owned a company that did work in NFLD in the 90s and was completely screwed by the selfish unions and their members there. Glad to see kharma unfolding you greedy bastards

  • MANAGERS WHO IDENTIFY CUTS ARE GOOD MANAGERS WHO DESERVE A BONUS
    February 04, 2012 - 00:01

    Fred Fudge said "It must hard to swallow when you told your job is gone and you have to get your a- s out through the door right now , then you hear management are getting bonuses. This mill is oversold in paper for the next year and yet they say they aren't making money ???"......................Really Fred, their profits have nothing to do with their decisions. No matter how much they are making, they have a right to want more, and are free to make whatever decisions necessary to attain their objective. AND rewarding management FOR finding job cuts is efficient. It gives management incentives to find ways to reduce workers without reducing efficiency or output. There is certainly no reason to have 3 workers doing the work that 2 workers can do. And there is no reason to reward the managers who identify where jobs can be cut....after all, it is these very same managers who made the savings possible. Every company should do this, and should do this on a bi-annual basis at the very least.

  • Dennis Ryan
    February 03, 2012 - 17:36

    In the words of Roberta Flack... "Business goes on as usual". Except that many workers were canned. They were full of drive and very much alive, Now their dreams have all been blasted from their heads. An all too often event in both unio and non-union workplaces. I recently experienced it personally while employed in a national directorship employment position. I unfortunately suffered a stroke which took me away from my job, and was terminated while on medical leave for frustration of contract. I did my best to fight it but soon learned the employer was legally permitted to take that route. As with many other employers they are looking for quick exits from employment contracts including those established under collective agreements. The bottom line is corporate greed no matter who gets hurt. The days of employers looking after their workforce have passed. This business is doomed to fail simply because they ignore their most important resource... human capital. This story and many others like it clearly exemplify the fact that unionism cannot overcome Corporate Greed. They(Corporations) carry politicians in their back pockets. I know it is hard on the workers affected but you must move forward. I do not believe your union President, your unon brothers and sisters or the International organization will have much of an appetite for fighting the corporation and its government kronies. Remember the latter in future elections.

  • B Critch
    February 03, 2012 - 16:53

    Ross, I'm glad someone finally put those points out there. To 'Sorry for the Loss', I'm a janitor at CBP&P and I do not make close to $30. To Chris, you completely misunderstand the article. Unions would rather have employees back, rather than work silly amounts of overtime. The mill lost some good people.

  • Freddy Kruger
    February 03, 2012 - 16:37

    Shame on Kruger! These tactics are classic union-busting actions. The company is provoking the unions, trying to get the memberships to wildcat and shut the plant down. If this had happened, then Kruger would be well within their right to operate DL Power for the sole purpose of selling juice to NL Hydro (at a tidy profit, of course!) As for bonuses, why isn`t the Premier and the provincial Cabinet demanding Kruger repay the taxpayer`s money that was advanced over the past few years. Obviously, to pay bonuses, there must be spare change in Mr. Kruger`s bank account. Therefore, as was the case in 2009 with the AIG .. Wall Street bailout & bonus scandal, executives should be summoned to appear before a special Premier`s commission! Lastly, I turn my back in disgust to the retired CBPP tradesmen who are returning to the mill as `hired guns``. These individuals are collecting pension cheques, as well as handsome `blood-money`cheques to be replacement workers for the Fired(!) tradesmen and their workload. Shame on you all! In certain circles, you are nothing more than scabs!

    • Uncle Spruce and Tiny Tim
      February 07, 2012 - 21:27

      We are going through the same thing in our town. No help from the Gov,t and the worst offenders are the retired trade people , racing to get back in there and cutting their fellow employees throat. The very first one was a legitimate millionaire. The worst is that they feel no shame for doing it. We all know the Company won,t feel ashamed , but these men should for double-dippin. Keep up the fight guys. we,re rooting for you and we may be next.

  • Laid off
    February 03, 2012 - 15:06

    Its about time the "Make Work Project" is over. The paper industry has been finished for years and the wishful thinkers still at the mill are delusional to think there jobs would be safe. Last time I checked, the Newfoundland ferry was still running. So get your tickets and head out west like the rest. Good luck thinking that place will last. You should all take another pay cut as your getting paid to much for labor work anyways. Go check at the Valley Mall what a Janitor or Labor gets paid there.

  • dogloc
    February 03, 2012 - 14:49

    In the 60s the paper mill started its cut backs due to automation,that is progress, i understand that,but in the 80s & 90s,the bigger companies began too lay off regular employers & replacing them by contracting out jobs to avoid paying health benefits & vacations,that is a very unfair way to treat dedicated workers,unions must take a stronger stand against contracting out jobs. I have never regretted quiting Bowaters 50 years ago...

  • Fred Fudge
    February 03, 2012 - 12:38

    It must hard to swallow when you told your job is gone and you have to get your a- s out through the door right now , then you hear management are getting bonuses. This mill is oversold in paper for the next year and yet they say they aren't making money ????. Of course the Plant in Deer Lake is treated as a stand alone company so the cost of power to produce a ton of paper would be just as high if it was bought of the grid. Layoffs must come but with the massive cuts by Kruger over the years, a skilled work force as been decimated which has led a lot of inefficiencys in breakdowns and in the production of paper not to mention low morale. Lets hope that that its not Kruger's plan to downgrade/downsize this plant to a point where , they have to shut it down. I believe not more cuts are needed but the coming together of all workers ( union & management) to address the inefficiencys.

  • David
    February 03, 2012 - 12:24

    Message to Union "Leaders" (and I use the term loosely): Please face the reality of your role now. It is not to 'win', it is not to beat managment, it is not to act like the testoterone-fueled thugs of the 1950s. Your job here and now is to minimize the pain for everyone concerned. There will be job losses, and pay cuts, and people affected. Don't be idiots and make it worse than it has to be....act for your members, not your egos.

    • Blown away
      May 12, 2012 - 23:57

      Yeah that's right Dave! Never mind fighting for anything. I'm with you. Let's shut the doors. But I think you'll be suprised to hear the "pay up and shut down or pay up and shut up campaign. We're not fighting for our jobs man. We are fighting for our rights and for our money. Some of us can't wait to hear the words "she's gone".... So we can leave this lame excuse for a city and let it become the retirement community it was destined to be.......

  • Sixty Four Bro
    February 03, 2012 - 11:59

    Wow, it boggles my mind how many poeple there are out there who are ready to see the mill close its doors. Its no wonder Corner Brook is ranked as one of the worst cities to live in across Canada. The attitude seems to be that we are all overpaid in there, I'm sorry, but all of us who have been hired to do labour work in the mill over the last 15 years have been required to have either a bachelors degree or 3-year technical program minimum to get theough the doors! The sad reality is that if I lose my job what company is going to hire a fellow who has a university degree with job experience listed as a forklift operator or janitor and pay a decent wage? We all took jobs there because of the money and we enjoy living in western Newfoundland and going home to our families at night. To the gentleman who stated there are $30/hr janitor jobs here at our mill I would love to know how to get one because it doesn't exist!

  • David
    February 03, 2012 - 11:36

    If, at this late stage of the very clear and serious situation, a union comes out with statements like these....well, let's just say that if this union leadership had its head any further up its own colon, it could start another Local there. If anyone at CBPP had any doubts whether their union dues over the past 15 years was money well spent.....epic fail. These guys are going to end you.

  • Ross Edison
    February 03, 2012 - 10:59

    For clarity, any past lay-offs have affected CEP Locals in the Mill with the hardest hit being Local 242 and Local 64. "The Guys" referred to in the article above are skilled tradesmen in IAMAW Local 1567 which include Millwrights, Welders, Machinists and Heavy Duty Mechanics. We haven't had any tradesmen laid off in our mill in the 10 years that I have worked there. On the contrary our union has advocated for more tradesmen to be hired as well as setting up an extensive apprenticeship training program to alleviate the need for the workers having to do so much overtime. As a matter of fact we have members of our union that have been threatened with disciplinary action up to and including termination for the refusal of overtime. We aren't looking for anybodys sympathy but we would appreciate the community's support. These lay-offs affect the men, their extended families, and the community in which we live. We are just trying to show a different perspective of the overall situation other than that of corporate Kruger. To all the people who have been affected by the cuts my thoughts and prayers are with you. Ross Edison President IAMAW Local 1567

  • David
    February 03, 2012 - 10:58

    Union unnecesary: mill

    • jimbob
      February 09, 2012 - 07:04

      don't kid yourself, if there were no union those workers would be getting just above minimum wage same as the majority of newfoiundland employees.

  • Artie
    February 03, 2012 - 10:54

    The Mill is dying. What is necessary, is for the union officials and workers to wake up, again, and realize that they are part of the problem, not the solution. I would not publicly say that "Our guys could work whatever overtime they wanted". Overtime at the mill costs a fortune, and workers make a high hourly wage as it is. Using overtime in any argument will not get you the public support you need and frankly, the public is tired of hearing about the poor mill workers and their job losses. The mill, equipment and indeed many of the workers are becoming more expensive to run as they are too expensive to maintain and the reality is that the mill is most likely closer to a full shut down than anyone can imagine. It has been coming for years.

  • Millwright
    February 03, 2012 - 10:34

    Hey Chris we never had anyone laid off before this only job reductions through retirements. So get your information straight before you shoot your mouth off. I laugh at all of you local people who think you know every detail that goes on in the mill but you don't. You are all quick to see us lose our jobs because of jealousy or some other reason. Unlike you I don't want to see anyone unemployeed we all have families too. So tell me where you work and what your position is so I can be cruelly judgemental. Also, did you read that two days before we lost union jobs our managers got a 10% bonus for running a mill on the verge of bankruptcy. This is okay to you? I will be awaiting your response.

    • a business man
      July 27, 2013 - 12:14

      While I cannot speak for Chris, I can say that I have no problem with this mill closing, and I applaud the decision to give mangers a bonus for eliminating jobs. That is part of the job of the manager, to manager resources efficiently. Sometimes, the most efficient use of resources is to use less resources. I want the mill to close down and I want the workers to lose their jobs because I am sick of the government giving my tax dollars to this special interest group. i would rather keep my money for my family. Furthermore, I don't get and money from the government, so why should this company get my tax dollars. I would rather see the company die. So yes, I am okay with managers getting a bonus for terminating workers, and I am okay with this company closing its doors for ever.

    • a business man
      July 27, 2013 - 12:20

      Honestly, if the fishermen are angry, the the rest of us have chosen the right government.

  • sixty-four
    February 03, 2012 - 10:20

    Chris, really? In what imaginary world do the unions decide to hire or recall workers? That would be managements role, the same management who cut the jobs to begin with. The same management who cut more jobs this week. If you have not noticed, this company has substantially decreased manpower since it took over the mill. It has never increased it. The workers are working insane amounts of overtime because the company continues to decrease manpower, the work still has to be done. All the mill unions have been begging for extra workers for years, and the company continually does the opposite. These employees work extra hours to try to make the mill survive, the company says "were cutting another 46 jobs, make it work", and the union members make it work. If you had actually read the article your commenting on, you would be aware that the unions didn't want to lose these jobs. So an individual who has punched thirty-odd years, doing the work of two or three men, because he is told he has to, is boot out the door with nothing to show for it, and you jump on a public forum to say you have no sympathy for him. Well done! Lets hope you're never in the same situation as these workers, but I'm sure if you were, they would have sympathy for you. Hats off to Mr. Ross Edison for pointing out the side of this story which is all to often overlooked by the media and which the public, Chris in particular, does not seem to understand.

  • Chris
    February 03, 2012 - 09:12

    "Our guys could work whatever overtime they wanted!!!!" Some union there....if there wasn't enough staff, it would've been better to recall some of the poor buggers that got laid off last round , then be greedy and screw yourself in the end. I have no more sympathy for these employees now! That is all!

    • rworried
      February 03, 2012 - 18:54

      And they say Newfoundlanders are friendly lovely people..only to tourists it seems.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    February 03, 2012 - 09:07

    By the sound of what I am hearing here from the union they appear to have lost all of their power as a bargaining unit as well as a back bone to boot. There was a time when the mill unions wielded a much bigger stick so to speak. Working without a contract since 2009 - that would be unheard of not that many years ago. Then to add insult to injury you have former unionized mill workers taking positions with contractors which in turn are eliminating their fellow supposed union brothers and sisters. By the sound of it if the union is willing to let this occur then the writing is on the wall, truly a sad situation for a former proud union facility.

    • David
      February 03, 2012 - 13:53

      Lamenting the long-eroded "stick-skills" of the union? That's right out of Bizarro World, along with the union brass. The union has no stick, pal. It hasn't had one for going on 2 decades. They just keep jumping on the ice and kicking it around in the corners, hoping the fans don't notice. So far, so good.

  • Long Gone
    February 03, 2012 - 08:52

    I was a tradesman at CBPP. I figured on retiring there. I quit and moved on. They still owe me 25% of MY pension, and the 10% I LENT them. Our decision was to cut our loses and get on with our lives. I have a excellent job now. I hope all the people affected will find work also. Give yourself time, time will disolve the hurt and mistrust. There are places to work that will appreciate your valuable skills and know how hard it is to hire and retain good people.

  • Sorry for the loss
    February 03, 2012 - 08:44

    Sorry to hear about the job losses but if people couldn't see this coming they need to start listening to the news. Pulp Mills are closing everywhere! The fact that you have that many direct employees was great when the industry was strong and everybody was rolling in money but the $30/h janitor jobs are ridiculous and as workers you have to decide, can you live with less or can you pack it in for Alberta? The death knell has sounded, your move unions!

  • Trinity Brown
    February 03, 2012 - 08:43

    I think that Ross Edison has covered some very important issues in a clear, concise way. Joe Kruger should open his books and show exactly how the company has been misspending gov't money. All that money given for training, six million dollars last year and they laid off many of the workers that received the training. This is not only ironic but wrong. If the unions don't like what has happened, Joe Kruger told them in Deer Lake last October, that if there is a walk-out, he will close the mill down. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.

  • Bill
    February 03, 2012 - 08:37

    Talk like that will result in the shutdown of the mill. Haven't the Corner Brook unions learned anything from the previous shutdown of the Grand Falls mill. Bet if those workers had to do it all over again many of them would still be working.

  • THE UNION JUST DOES NOT GET IT
    February 03, 2012 - 08:09

    The union said "The only reason we were in there to work is because they needed us. Now, all of a sudden, they don’t need us? It makes no sense really.”...................HOW does it not make sense. They needed the worker, so they kept them and paid them, and now they don't need them, so they get rid of them? what is the problem with this? sound like smart business sense to me, even if the company is profitable, which it is not in this case. Maybe they don't need the workers because they have combined jobs, found efficiencies, hired temp workers, or even outsourced part of the operations. who knows? the only thing that is for sure that the union workers are no longer needed. This is the first step in a positive change for a Canadian company

    • Blown away
      May 13, 2012 - 00:09

      Yeah but see they didn't....... There were zero changes and the mill Is falling apart.....read the article. Ross is not an idiot. He can't see it b/c the work needs to be done, and its not. They just keep passing the buck.