Workers at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake are represented by the United Steelworkers Local 1-2017 union. (Lakes District News file photo)

Local 1-2017 votes on deal with Conifer

Members of the United Steelworkers local 1-2017 are expected to finish voting on an agreement reached with the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (Conifer) by March 11.

The union represents workers at the Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake and the Canfor mill in Houston.

The vote is on whether or not to ratify a tentative agreement that the union made with Conifer in Prince George on Feb. 13, following several months of negotiations and strikes.

“We’re recommending that they accept it…We think it’s a fair deal. We wouldn’t have recommended it to the membership if we thought otherwise,” Paul French, vice president of the union, told Lakes District News.

The proposed agreement covers 2018-2023 and provides for wage increases, including a retroactive raise to July 1, 2018.

Upon ratification, a lump sum of $500 would be paid to all active regular employees , as well as another $500 on July 1, 2020.

Other points of the agreement include a shift differential premium increase from 31 cents to 40 cents per hour, and a first aid premium rise from 85 cents to $1.

Steve Zika, chief executive officer of Hampton Lumber, which owns Babine Forest Products, said he’s glad the labour dispute is over.

“While in a negotiation neither side gets everything they want I believe it was a fair settlement.”

The agreement comes after the union went on strike a few times in 2018 amidst negotiations with Confier and the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association.

LOOK BACK: Babine Mill workers, union wait for new talks with management

The Babine and Canfor mills were subject to overtime bans and rotating strikes.

READ MORE: Strike to continue at Babine mill in Burns Lake

READ MORE: Canfor sawmill workers ready to strike in Houston

Local 1-2017 represents more than 1,500 forestry workers in northern British Columbia.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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