Striking Steelworkers Local 6500 members meet today for information sessions on a new contract offer to end a labour dispute that has dragged on since June 1.
The union has posted the details for three information sessions on Aug. 3. No details of the contract offer were provided. Highlights of the offer will be made available on the Local 6500 website this morning.
The sessions will be held remotely, but for those who can’t access Zoom, simultaneous in-person sessions will be held at the Steelworkers Hall on Brady Street. Only 260 people can be in the room to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, so entry will be first come, first served, the union said.
Online voting on the offer will be held Aug. 3 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The nearly 2,500 Local 6500 members hit the picket line June 1 after rejecting the first contract offer, which the union’s bargaining committee recommended workers accept.
The five-year deal was accepted by Steelworkers Local 6200, representing about 100 production and maintenance employees at Vale’s Port Colborne operations.
As part of that first negotiated deal, union members would have received a four per cent increase in standard hourly rates over the term of the contract with 0.5 per cent in 2021 and 2022, and then one per cent in 2023, 2024 and 2025.
Members were also to receive a one-time payment of $2,500 in recognition of continued efforts during the last year.
Furthermore, members were being offered a one-time signing bonus of $3,500.
Other key items included changes to the benefit pension, pension plan and health care benefits, to name a few.
In terms of concessions for union members, the new agreement would have eliminated over-the-counter drug coverage, excluding life-sustaining drugs and close retiree benefits eligibility for all insurances, health and hospital services for employees hired on or after June 1, 2021.
On June 14, members rejected a second contract offer. In mid-July, a third-party facilitator was brought in to help with negotiations. Local 6500 vice-president Kevin Boyd said the mood among the 2,500 members on the picket line is one of optimism on news negotiators had returned to the table.
“Members are happy to hear talks resumed this week,” Boyd said.