New Agreement for Nackawic, New Brunswick Mill Workers

June 27, 2011, 12:25 PM EST

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CAW Local 219 members at AV Nackawic Inc. in Nackawic, New Brunswick have overwhelmingly approved a new contract that provides improved benefits, a Sunday shift premium, a reduced work week and wage increases.

The workers ratified the tentative agreement by 87 per cent at meetings June 20. Wage increases are 7.5 per cent by 2015, the new Sunday premium is time-and-a-half, while benefit increases include dental, vision, drug and other gains.

There is also a four-day work week from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and for a limited number of workers on a Thursday-to-Sunday shift.

CAW Local 219 President Brady Moore said this is a fair agreement which acknowledges the hard work and determination of the bargaining committee and the support of the membership as well as the assistance of the national union.

"These workers weathered some very difficult times after the former owner of the mill declared bankruptcy and closed the facility in September 2004," said Moore. "We have recovered much of what was lost in the bankruptcy and rebuilt a solid foundation for the future for the workforce, their families and the community. In the process we have established a stronger relationship with the new owner," he said.

CAW National Representative Chad Johnston said the membership had patiently waited for the opportunity to get back to the table and improve many of their work life issues.

"The committee worked hard and prepared for several months leading up to negotiations, which the employer recognized and responded to in the final hours of negotiations when a fair agreement was reached," said Johnston.

After the bankruptcy workers were shocked by the drastically underfunded status of the defined benefit pension plan managed by the previous owner. They took over the shuttered mill getting widespread media attention and then guarded the mill on a 24-hour basis over seven months to ensure no assets were removed or destroyed.

Eventually a new owner from India purchased the facility converting it from a paper pulp mill to a dessolving pulp mill used in manufacturing rayon, which is used for making clothing and many other textiles.

Local 219 currently represents 270 workers at the mill.

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