UPDATED: Two sides in Kootenay Savings labour dispute take weekend hiatus
Even members of bargaining committees need a few days off for a weekend break.
Talks in the Kootenay Savings Credit Union Labour dispute are taking weekend hiatus Jeff Bromley of the United Steelworkers Union said in an email release Friday.
Bromley said bargaining has stopped for the weekend with employer (Kootenay Savings Credit Union) expected to return to the table Monday with an offer.
Talks resume in Kootenay Savings labour dispute
It will be business as usual for now at Kootenay Savings Credit Union as the two sides involved in a bitter labour dispute have returned to the bargaining table with hopes of reaching an agreement.
Both parties are in a legal strike and lockout position as of as of 8 a.m. Pacific, (9 a.m. Mountain time) Friday, October 21, 2016.
However, Jeff Bromley of the United Steelworkers Union said in an email release Thursday that “the USW (Steelworkers) Locals 1-405 and 9705 and Kootenay Savings Credit Union have agreed to postpone any possible work stoppage on Friday.”
“Both parties are in a legal strike/lockout position as of 8 a.m. Friday morning,” Bromley added.
He said two parties are still talking and talks are ongoing.
Bromley said no further comment will be released until a deal is reached or conversely, a work stoppage commences.
Pension, wages key issues in Kootenay Savings contract negotiations
Pension and wages continue to be the major sticking points for the parties involved the Kootenay Saving labour dispute.
United Steelworkers Union 1-405 and 9705 members and Kootenay Savings Credit Union are on a collision course with both sides drawing the line in the sand — the union serving 72-hour strike notice and management countering with 72-hour lockout notice, a precautionary measure the company says to ensure service delivery to members in the event of a disruption.
The strike and lockout notices puts both parties in legal work stoppage position as of 8 a.m. Pacific, (9 a.m. Mountain time) Friday, October 21, 2016.
President and CEO, Brent Tremblay said in a media release the local Credit Union have not been successful in getting the Union’s assistance to address two critical needs regarding pension language and wages.
Regarding the contentious pension issue Tremblay said for many years, Kootenay Savings has offered its unionized members a Defined Benefit Pension Plan through a multi‐employer B.C. Credit Union Plan.
While Kootenay Savings remains committed to continuing its participation in the Plan that the B.C. Credit Union Trust offers, the company is concerned about language in the contract.
“The problem is that our current pension language holds us to unlimited financial liability for any changes that the Trustees may make to the Plan,” Tremblay explained.
“This is a highly unusual requirement, and no other credit union in the B.C. plan is required to do so, including other credit unions in the plan who have employees represented by the Steelworkers.”
Tremblay said the plan is controlled by a Board of Trustees who make modifications to the plan from time to time to ensure it can continue to meet its obligations to plan members.
He said this language creates the risk of a potentially untenable financial burden to the credit union.
“We are simply seeking the same level of financial responsibility as all other Credit Union employers who participate in the Plan,” Tremblay said.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to our 38,000 members and our 200 employees to protect the financial health of our organization.”
Dean Lott, lead negotiator for the union, said the employer continued to refuse to remove their concession that eliminates the pension protection language that was bargained into the agreement almost 30 years ago.
“The employer has not shown us any model where there is any kind of worst-case scenario for the removal of the language,” Lott said.
“We will not bargain ‘what if’s’”. The Union remains committed to returning the table to bargain a fair collective agreement at any time.”
The current state of negotiations comes after Mediator Dave Schaub booked out of talks after a half day of the scheduled four days of meetings.
Tremblay said Kootenay Savings, which values its employees, provides salaries and benefits that are very competitive when compared to other financial institutions, and some of the highest bargaining unit wages when compared to credit unions across the province.
Kootenay Savings has branches and offices in Trail, Castlegar, Salmo, South Slocan, Kaslo, Fruitvale and Kimberley.
In 2011, Kootenay Savings and USW averted a labour disruption when the two sides came to an agreement after the union service strike notice.