CAW Inks New Deal at Saputo Cheese

July 13, 2011, 3:45 PM EST

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Union members at Saputo Cheese in Georgetown, Ontario have voted in favour of a new three-year agreement that includes wage increases in addition to lump sum payments, work-life quality enhancements as well as pension and benefit improvements among other important workplace gains. The contract ratification meeting was held on July 7.

CAW National Representative Paulo Ribeiro considers this collective agreement the best ever negotiated for workers at the Georgetown facility.

"Not only did we make major gains in wages and benefits, we enhanced additional contract items like tool allowances, paid time off work, shift premiums and even increased employer contributions to the CAW Paid Education Leave program," Ribeiro said.

The union bargained 2.5 per cent wage increases in each year of the agreement, alongside signing bonuses of $750 for full-time workers, $375 for part-time workers. Employer PEL contributions doubled from 3 cents per hour to 6 cents per hour.

Saputo workers joined the CAW three years ago, after having left the Christian Labour Alliance of Canada (or CLAC) - an employer-supported organization that masquerades as a legitimate trade union. Under CLAC, the Saputo workers' severance language was substantially weakened with major concessions made to the employer - a benefit the CAW negotiating committee successfully bargained back for the members (3 weeks pay for each year of credited service to a maximum of 52 weeks).

"It's been a challenging road for our members over the past decade, with changes in company ownership as well as union representation," said Chairperson Billy Alcorn, who credits the hard work and dedication of the bargaining committee in reaching this deal.

"This latest deal is a signal that we've definitely found a home in the CAW."

The CAW represents 180 production and skilled trades workers at the Georgetown facility, previously owned by Neilson. The workers process dairy products, including cheese, milk, coffee cream and yogurts and are members of CAW Local 1285.

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