Coal Mountain back to work

NEARLY two months after going on strike, workers at Teck Resources’ Coal Mountain operation in southeastern British Columbia, Canada, are back on the job with a ratified five-year agreement with the United Mine Workers of America.
Coal Mountain back to work Coal Mountain back to work Coal Mountain back to work Coal Mountain back to work Coal Mountain back to work

Courtesy Teck Coal.

Donna Schmidt

The new deal replaces an agreement which had expired on December 31, 2009, and put the mine’s 160 miners back to work on Wednesday, 54 days after the strike was called.

"We are pleased that an agreement is in place and congratulate the members of the negotiating committees on reaching a successful resolution," Teck operations and engineering vice president Bill Fleming said.

The UMWA, on behalf of its Local Union 7292, said on Wednesday afternoon that the membership voted 79% in favor of the new deal, which was negotiated last Saturday when a mediator stepped in to assist the two non-communicating parties.

“We are pleased that we were able to achieve all of our initial bargaining goals in this agreement,” union international auditor/teller Canada representative Bob Burchell said. Burchell had led negotiations for the union.

“We closed the wage gap that had existed with the company’s other mines in the area, retroactive to January 1, 2010. We achieved the job security language we were looking for and won increases in our health benefit package.”

Burchell noted that it was solidarity that won the strike for the UMWA.

“As time went on, the company saw us getting stronger, not weaker. Our picket line never wavered, and the members on it continued to grow,” he said.

“Add to that the support we received from within the UMWA and from other unions in the area and it became clear to management that they weren’t just taking on 160 guys, they were taking on every local union in the UMWA in Canada and the US, as well as union members from across North America. Once they understood that, we were able to move pretty quickly to reach a fair and equitable agreement.”

Teck Resources said earlier this month that its third quarter pricing and sales guidance would be cut because of temporary capacity constraints at the Westshore Terminals, but confirmed that the Coal Mountain strike had not had a material impact on sales.

Initially projected for the third period to range between 5.8Mt and 6.2Mt, Teck said two weeks ago that sales are now expected to be 5.2-5.5Mt.

Sales for the calendar year are now anticipated to total 23-23.8Mt, versus its previous guidance range of 23.5-24.5Mt.