Canada's largest union in the private sector has won a key arbitration award that will see nine retiring workers from Local 298 and Local 1127 receive the compensation they were promised when West Fraser closed its Eurocan pulp mill.
“We were fighting for retirees who were short-changed,” said Unifor Western Director Scott Doherty. “This ruling confirms that workers have the right to rescind notice of retirement.”
In 2009, nine workers at the Eurocan mill in Kitimat were scheduled to retire when they learned that the site was going to close permanently in February 2010. As a result of the closure, the company was offering a generous severance to workers exclusive of retirement benefits. In response, the retiring workers rescinded their retirement notice to opt instead for the severance package. The company refused to accept the change.
The former Communications, Energy and Paperworkers' Union (now Unifor) filed a grievance on behalf of the retiring workers. After a series of appeals, the case was re-arbitrated, upholding the original judgement in the workers' favour.
Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 300,000 members, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.