Mine Mill & Smelter Workers - Local 598 / C.A.W.

   19 Regent Street South,

Sudbury, Ontario  P3C 4B7



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Production & Maintenance Bargaining Unit - Xstrata Nickel


February 12, 2007


Contract 2007

By:  Rick Grylls, President


The membership gave the Bargaining Committee the mandate to bargain the collective agreement and more important, they gave the committee the right to call a strike.


When there are major issues on the table that need defending or correcting, then the call to withdraw our labour is easy, as was the case in 1997, 2000 and 2004 and the membership followed the call.


We knew there was a change in the air with new ownership direction and the profitability of the Company was at a record high. As the process unfolded in the month of January, the lure of the first Company offer of “take it or leave it” by midnight, had cash but no real changes to the workplace language.


With a Union counteroffer in that Company’s short eight-hour window on the 25th, we refused to be drawn into their plan.  The Company then withdrew their offer in hopes of dividing the membership and by dragging out a response to put pressure on the Committee.


The result did not change the Committee’s direction. They wanted to bargain the best possible language and monetary package they could and if that was not reached by midnight on the 31st, then we would withdraw our labour.  We knew the membership would strike if we called one.  It was a long quiet time from the 25th to the 31st.


The process then turned to classic last-hour bargaining.  The Company’s first counter offer came around 4 p.m. on January 31st. At 11 p.m., we were in a strike position based on the little language there was on the table and through the mediator and Hemi Mitic, we were able to complete almost all the issues before us.


A review showed there were no major issues left that would bind the membership in a strike call and the Committee unanimously accepted a tentative agreement with the Company.


The Bargaining Committee does not have the luxury of representing their personal agenda or issues when it comes to the vote. Their mandate is for the full 1,000 members of this workplace and they chose to accept a tentative agreement with very strong language instead of going on strike.


The membership has again given them a strong mandate by accepting this package for three more years, which will see the opening of Nickel Rim South, the development of Fraser Morgan and the push for the Onaping Depth.


The Chief Stewards have received new language to deal with work place issues of job postings, training, retransfer, vacations, Nickel Rim South opening and contracting out reduction.


These Union representatives will need your support to make the new language changes happen in a smooth manner.




I strongly recommend that you join the Company’s Employee Savings Plan (ESP) and receive the benefits of over $750 a year in extra savings (based on $50,000 earnings) by banking 5% of your earnings.  I also recommend that you put some of your nickel bonus into a RRSP for you or your spouse.


Whatever you may think, the Bargaining Committee has again provided the leadership needed to move forward, this time into a very positive future – the first in over 14 years.


Work Safe - Work Healthy

Greetings Brothers and Sisters,


I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the active workers from Xstrata Nickel, members of Mine Mill Local 598/CAW. Because of the unwavering support you provided the Local’s Bargaining Committee, they were able to bring back to you a fair and just contract without the necessity of calling a strike.


I was presented the opportunity by our Retirees Chapter, through President Ben Robinson, to represent the pensioners and widows at these last set of negotiations. This was an assignment I took very seriously and was proud to perform.


For more than two months, I had the privilege of working side by side with the Local’s Committee. I observed how well they were prepared and how dedicated they were to the task at hand. But, all this preparation and dedication would be for not, if it weren’t for the support of the members.


The name of the game in negotiations is Power and when to use it. There would be no Power to the Union’s Committee without a strong strike mandate. The only Power we have as a worker is our labour. You can build a strong case for changing or not changing contract language, you can argue morals or scruples, you can argue family matters or social conscience, but the only thing that gets a corporation’s attention is the effect these actions will have on the bottom line. The number one attention getter by far is a strike.


The Retirees Chapter of Local 598, thank the Union’s Committee led by Rick and Richard and the Company’s Committee led by Lori Horner, for remembering and keeping in mind the pioneers of this Company and this Union. They have built both.


Our Chapter, as most know, is always there when the Local needs support. We are also committed to working side by side with the Company in an effort to keep benefit costs down. And, we are also there, working to ensure retirees have a long and comfortable life.


Again congratulations to all and don’t forget the less fortunate in our community.


In Solidarity,

Brian McDonald, Retirees Chapter

Smelter News

By: Dwight Harper


As your Vice-President and Strike Coordinator, I was called off the job in early January to act as interim President and to make the necessary strike preparations had negotiation talks failed to reach a collective agreement. All was in readiness, as per my directive, except for an electrical issue at the West End trailer!  Fortunately, those preparations were not necessary as a tentative deal was struck, literally minutes before the deadline.


Now with the ratification vote behind us, the Sudbury Operations are poised to embark on a new three-year journey, into relatively uncharted waters. There is a positive wind of optimism that fills the sails of this ship we call Xstrata Nickel. But, her crew remains skeptical and cautious as this journey begins, because they have been disappointed before.


It will be the task of the new managers who now control the helm, to show they are committed to the new direction in order to quell that skepticism and once again, gain back the confidence of the crew.


Further, it will also be the responsibility of the crew leaders and the crew itself to ensure that this new collective agreement becomes the map that, if followed, will guide this ship for the next three years and beyond. If not, the winds of optimism will quickly calm, the waters will once again become turbulent and the crew will become disheartened with where the journey is headed.


The captains and their competent crews are in place, all is in readiness for the voyage, but just how successful that voyage will be, remains an uncertainty.



Xstrata Nickel Unit Chair Report

By:  Richard Paquin


This is a first for us. Since 1994, a Collective agreement signed without a labour dispute.


Our membership has remained united throughout this journey and has to be commended for staying strong.  This allowed your bargaining committee to remain strong and firm on the main issues that our membership wanted addressed. The Company made their initial offer Thursday, January 25th. They expected your Bargaining Committee to drop all the remaining proposals and when we made a counter proposal, they withdrew their offer.


The Company made no effort to talk to the Bargaining Committee over the next five days. The Company thought the membership would turn on the Committee and force us to accept their offer.  It didn’t happen. The membership supported us and in the end, we were able to make gains and many improvements over their initial offer in areas of contract language, benefits and other economics.


The Bargaining Committee would like to thank our members, the Retirees Chapter of our Local, the community, our CAW sister locals, the brothers and sisters from the other Unions for their support during these negotiations.


Without the tremendous support brought forward by these groups, this settlement would not have been achieved.


This Company never ceases to amaze me.  While I remained skeptical during bargaining about the Company intentions to actually “turn the corner”, the actions of the Company on many issues since last week seems to indicate to me that “Yes“, this Company does want to forget the past and forge ahead with new and different visions than we are used to. It seems that they believe this will lead to a more prosperous and productive Company to which each employee will benefit from.


The CEO of Xstrata Nickel stated to me, “The signing of the collective agreement without a labour dispute took having focused teams on both sides of the table. I believe it sets the scene and allows us to now turn and focus on making our business case in Sudbury more robust.” 


This indicates to me that they are committed to making this place work and ensuring that the past relationship with our employees is a thing of the past. Maybe, finally, we will be coming to work happy and content.  Time will tell, but all indications are pointing in the right direction. 


We are looking forward to the future.



Our New Bosses Are In Town

August 30, 2006

Anticipation is high as we recently found out that we, as your local Union leaders, will be meeting face to face with our new CEO, Ian Pearce and CFO, Trevor Reid from our new company called Xstrata Nickel, as they pay their first official visit to Sudbury.

Xstrata Nickel executives will be visiting the different operations this week, speaking with union representatives and management.

"We're looking forward to meeting with them and from what we've been hearing and reading and what they've been saying, their approach to this operation seems to be, 'go out and build assets.'  If that's true, then things should be positive for all our employees.

Continuing to invest and expand our local operations is the only approach that makes sense in the current climate of skyrocketing nickel prices and huge global demand.

Their agenda's this week includes a breakfast address Thursday morning to the Chamber of Commerce members at the Caruso Club, which myself and Rick Grylls will be attending.

In the afternoon, we will be speaking directly to Ian and Trevor along with Myles Sullivan (president of Local 2020) at the Xstrata Nickel Smelter in Falconbridge.

I'm sure there will be a lot of questions to them and we are hoping that they can answer a lot of our questions so that we can relay their message back to our membership in a timely fashion.

We will keep you all updated as the journey continues.

Richard Paquin
Unit Chair - Xstrata Nickel
Mine Mill 598 - CAW

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Report, Unit Chair – Xstrata Nickel

March 23, 2006


Issues to a Third Party:

FINAL1logo.jpg (32210 bytes)Since the special meeting held in November 2004 at the Trillium Centre the Union has taken 13 cases to arbitration. We achieved a resolution in 12 of the cases and in one a less than satisfactory result. Not all of these cases went through the full arbitration process. A number were settled between the parties shortly before, or on the day of the scheduled hearings. Three discipline cases were settled over the phone with the company’s lawyer.

Our track record to date has been good and will hopefully remain so as we scheduled13 hearings between January 1st and June 30th.

The issues we are fighting now and over the next few months are essentially the same issues that we have struggled since the strike in 2000. Some of these issues are a direct result of that strike.

In addition to arbitration we have a med/arb process built into our CA. That has been a less than satisfactory process in that cases sent to the arbitrator via this route must be mutually agreed to. The company seldom will take an issue through to med/arb if they think there is any chance of losing. They never take discipline cases to med/arb anymore. For several months we held off sending any cases to hearings via this process because the company was denying everything at stage 2 and only agreeing to take cases that they would win. This subverted the intent of the grievance process and as a result by last fall we had almost 300 active grievance files.

At the last meeting I reported that we would attempt to resolve as many of these as possible by meeting with the company. We have completed these meetings and are only waiting for the results from the smelter. At this point in time we have in the order of 185 cases.

Specific Issues:-

Annual Vacations: Everyone is pissed about this issue. At the last meeting the stewards passed a motion that I approach the company with our concerns about the fairness of their planned vacation scheduling process. I did that and on the day following the meeting, I discussed this with the HR department. They were unwilling to consider any changes to the policy. Since then the company has moved forward with the policy, we have several grievances files over the issue and I have filed a direct difference on behalf of the members of this Union. We are hoping the have this heard in the early part of May.

Smelter Labourer: We had the second stage hearing at the smelter on Tuesday of this week. We did a lot of talking, they said little. When we asked the specific question, did they plan to continue violating the job posting language of the CA by replacing Process Helper Trainees with Smelter Labourers, they agreed that they would. We hoped to have this case heard in late May but this might be held off until September due to the availability of the arbitrator.

Craig Mine/TL Transfers: We have taken told the company that in no way would we accept the transfer of members from TL due to the ground conditions emergency, only to be told that they would be moving people from Craig to TL to fill vacancies a couple of weeks later. They uses article 17.02. Our position is that the only way to fill vacancies is to post them under article 16. We are still waiting for the company to discuss this with us at stage two. We would like to get this in front of an arbitrator as soon as possible as well.

Additional Issues:


  1. We have one case that has had five days of hearings so far and looks as though it will continue until late June at this point.

  2. The other discharge case will be going to an arbitrator in late April.

Contracting Out: The contracting out case has its next day in June. This case will not likely be resolved before negotiations.

Electrical/Instrumentation Case: We have intervenor status in this issue. Last year the OCT filed a grievance and took it to arbitration because some instrumentation work had been included in our CA. We objected to the proceedings on the grounds that since the case had been filed by the OCT, the arbitrator did not have the power to issue a ruling over the terms of our CA. This case then went before the OLRB where it is slowly going through that process. This case, after three meetings in nearly a year is still in the process of the parties attempting to come to an agreement where the hearings might eventually be held, in Sudbury or Toronto.

Anti-Harassment Training: The training that was discussed in my last quarterly report has happened for Craig Mine in February. These sessions were delivered by a CAW facilitator and the course material was provided by the Union. The company liked it so much that it will be offered to everyone in the MMBU over the next few months. We are still trying to convince management at the Smelter that they should agree to this as well. The deal is that the Union will provide the trainer, the course material and the company will cover off all of the costs including the 4 hours overtime for each employee, (including staff and OCT.)

I want to close by saying that it has been a pleasure to work on behalf of the members of this Union and to say that I hope you will continue the struggle to advance the rights of the members. What we have achieved to this point has been through collective action, what you can only achieve in the future you will achieve by working together.

Bob Beck

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For Immediate Release

 February 21, 2006

 Extension is an Opportunity for Public Interest Review of

INCO-Falconbridge Merger

 Leaders of the Canadian Auto Workers union responded today to the announcement by INCO and Falconbridge that the closing date for their proposed merger has been extended to June 30, as a result of continuing investigations by U.S. and European competition authorities.

 “This proposed mega-merger is still very much up in the air,” said Rick Grylls, president of Mine Mill 598/CAW, representing Falconbridge members at mining, milling and smelting operations in the Sudbury area.

 “The repeated extensions of the closing date indicate this merger faces significant hurdles, from both regulators and investors.”

 The long extension raises major questions as to whether the merger will in fact proceed.  Swiss-based Xstrata will now have an opportunity to submit a competing offer for Falconbridge, with the expiry in May of its agreement with Brookfield Asset Management (formerly Brascan) to match the price of any subsequent Xstrata purchases of Falconbridge shares.  Bids from other potential suitors (including Teck Cominco) are also possible – for either Falconbridge, or for the combination of INCO and Falconbridge.  The fact that Falconbridge shares are trading for significantly more than the $34 INCO offer, suggests that investors are expecting further bids.

 The CAW has called for a comprehensive review of the public interest impacts of any merger involving INCO or Falconbridge, before it is allowed to proceed.  “A merger will have both costs and benefits for Canadians,” Grylls continued.  “It is essential for all stakeholders, including government, labour, and municipalities, to participate in developing a clear plan that sets binding targets to make sure that any merger respects the interests of Canadians.”

 Nickel Belt MP Ray Bonin attended the Mine Mill 598’s INCO/Falconbridge merger public forum on February 15th and stated that city council and all stakeholders should have a meeting to review the long term security of the community.  The CAW would welcome such an initiative.

 “We can’t simply trust any of these huge companies to do the right thing for Sudbury, or for Canada.  We have to hold them accountable.”

 Grylls called on Canadian regulatory authorities to play a more active role in reviewing the impact of any proposed merger.  “It is embarrassing that this mega-merger between two purportedly Canadian companies is receiving a more thorough review from foreign regulators, than from our own regulators.”

 In particular, Grylls called on the Investment Review branch of Industry Canada to look seriously at the implications of an INCO-Falconbridge merger for foreign ownership levels.  INCO is majority owned by foreign investors, mostly U.S.-based.  The CAW has also asked provincial and federal governments to review the merger more carefully, and make approval for the merger (or for subsequent development projects) contingent on commitments by the merged company to specific targets for Canadian investment, employment, and purchases.

 There has been some speculation about the impact of an INCO-Falconbridge merger on labour relations – most recently in the form of extensive published comments by leaders of the United Steelworkers of America (which has endorsed INCO’s proposed takeover) indicating that union’s desire to represent all workers at a merged company.

 “This whole takeover process is completely uncertain,” said Grylls.  “The financial wheeling and dealings are just getting started.”

 “Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of any particular takeover bid, we should all work together to win as much protection for jobs and investments in Sudbury as we possibly can.”

 In the event that a merger results in representation elections for workers at INCO and/or Falconbridge (a situation that will not likely occur until later in 2007, at the earliest), Grylls said he was confident that Canadian workers in the mines, mills, and smelters would choose a Canadian union to represent them.  “But it’s premature and counterproductive to start that battle now, with such an important decision regarding our economic future completely up in the air.”

 “Any union official who starts to dream about capturing new members is missing the more important question, which is how to hold all of these investors accountable to the Canadian public interest.”


 For further comment, Rick Grylls, 705-673-3661, ext 23 or 705-665-2138

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Thoughts on the Merger

October 25, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, this community was taken by the surprise when it was announced  that the two nickel companies that have been the mainstay of the local economy, planned to merge in the near future. After a bit of hesitation, local politicians came out in support of the deal. That in itself is not surprising, given that part of the announcement included a promise of increased activity in the mining sector and the possibility of new jobs. In the eyes of any politician an increase in base level employment over the course of the next few years is equivalent to winning the lottery, not the 6/49 maybe but at least the Encore. This deal was something that could definitely be portrayed as good news in the media. Who could resist discussing news like: an improved local employment picture, a possible increase in spin-off jobs that would benefit the community and hoped for long-term stable employment for the youth of our community.

That is all good stuff, but let us examine the situation without the benefit of the rose-coloured glasses worn by our political leadership. A couple of weeks have passed and the initial euphoria of the announcement should have begun to wear off.

In the short term, there may well be an improved employment picture locally. Certainly, in the area of mining, this merger will open up a number of business opportunities. On the other hand, any discussion of synergies and rationalization by a corporation should be ringing alarm bells in the minds of those people who carry a lunch pail to their place of employment. By their own admission there will be some job loss in the area of administration, the number 150 was mentioned. Regardless of who loses his job, this will be a net loss to the community. As is usual in these cases, the company(s) were careful to assert that these losses would come about through attrition. That means they hope that enough people would retire to avoid any layoffs, or more euphemistically, “downsizing”. In the final analysis, there will be job loss, and that will be a fact no matter how it is sugar coated.

The issue of spin-off jobs may be no more than a hoped for result of the merger. The reality is that with a one-company market for those companies involved in the supply of goods and services to the mining industry the possibility of a shakeup in this sector is very real. There will undoubtedly be pressure from the one major company to continue to reduce its costs and for the suppliers it will be a race to the bottom. Some will not be able to compete and will fall by the wayside. In any case, the residents of Sudbury should at the very least brace for an adjustment of the overall local employment picture.

Finally, it is generally accepted that this country, and this industry in particular are, and will continue to suffer from a chronic lack of skilled workers. In the case of Falconbridge, a large group of employees was hired between 1970 and 1975. For the most part these were young men in their late teens and early twenties with little or no mining experience. That didn’t matter much then, as both companies trained the people that they hired in-house, and in a few short years both had the most dedicated, skilled workforces on the planet. Inco and Falconbridge were employers of choice and a job in Sudbury was the most sought job in the industry. Unfortunately, management, although blessed with all of the benefits provided by a quality workforce, lost sight of one critical area of their responsibility; the need to provide training and to upgrade their employees. One vital aspect of the training process and succession planning is the passing on of learned skills and experience to the younger generation. The company(s) began to see training as a cost, not as an investment in the future. They began to believe that training should be the responsibility of the taxpayer and of the potential employee. This process is a typical example of a corporation “externalizing” its costs. In spite of the fact that they are mining the non-renewable resources of this province, they still feel that it is their right to have the taxpayers pay up for the training of the people they will need to run their operations, (most of the trainees at Norcat are funded by EI programs). Never mind the fact that Inco and Falconbridge operate the number one and number four sources of pollution in this country. The results of these shortsighted training policies were:

  1. The loss of skilled trainers through attrition and downsizing in the 1990’s;

  2. A massive loss of skills on the job when the workers hired thirty years before started retiring in large numbers beginning in the year 2000;

  3. And a severe, ongoing lack of skilled people trained to take over from those workers who were retiring. The training infrastructure put in place to replace the programs abandoned by the companies has proven to be at best inadequate.

  4. There has been an almost total lack of support on the part of Falconbridge in providing support in the form of apprenticeships for the skilled trades. In spite of the fact that mechanization and technological change have become vital to the success and economic viability of the industry, Falconbridge has chosen to hire skilled trades away from other employers who made the investment in the skilled trades. Although this company sits on the Board of Directors for Skytech, (the skilled trades program at Cambrian College), they have not hired a single apprentice in many years.

Therefore, in spite of the announcements of synergies, cost reductions, and a hoped for new golden age of mining in the Sudbury District, the reality is that a good many local residents will not experience any real benefits from this merger and unless there is a commitment from the company, in regard to training of skilled workers, including apprentices in the skilled trades there will be little opportunity for the youth of this region.

Bob Beck,

Unit Chair – Falconbridge

Mine Mill/CAW – Local 598

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INCO / Falconbridge Merger - Questions and Answers:

On an ongoing basis, the Union will attempt to answer the concerns of the membership on an ongoing basis as the proposed merger between INCO and Falconbridge moves forward.

Q: What happens to my pension if this merger goes through?

A: Due to the recent announcement by the company of a merger between Inco and Falconbridge, a number of concerns have been raised by our membership. These questions initially revolve around the issue of pensions. Mine Mill/CAW – Local 598 has bargained what is known as a Defined Benefit Plan for the workforce it represents. This is a plan that provides a pension in which the amount paid out is guided by a defined formula, normally based on the years of service with Falconbridge. Within this plan, the company is required by regulation to contribute to a provincially regulated pension fund which ensures that ensures that each retired employee receives a specified monthly pension. In the event of death, a pre-determined portion of the basic pension goes either to the surviving spouse or to his or her estate. As a result of our preliminary inquiries your union feels that the pension plan in place, continues to be secure.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Merger Update Friday October 14th 2005

On Thursday, the Bob, Rick and Wayne met with Mike Dufresne, Mark Trevisiol and Lori Horner to exchange information regarding the potential merger between Inco and Falcobridge that was announced earlier this week. The announcement of this merger was released to the media at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and up until that point the details had been kept under wraps. The Union Leadership was not informed prior to the announcement, nor was Company Management at the Sudbury Operations.

Initially the discussions centered around what might happen over the short and medium term. Both Mike and Mark felt that from their perspective the best courts might be to go about, “business as usual.” The entire takeover/merger process will easily take until the end of the year and most likely beyond to complete. A number of approvals must be obtained from the various regulatory agencies and from the shareholders of both companies. It must be stated in addition that this is by no means a done deal. It is not beyond the realm of speculation that another major corporation with deep pockets could emerge from the wings and make an offer to purchase Falconbridge, Inco, or the New Inco, now that the process has been started.

CAW Statement

We have exchanged a number of emails, and had some discussions over the telephone with Jim Stanford, the CAW’s economist regarding the formulation of a position paper regarding the takeover/merger. This document at present would likely take the same form, and raise some of the same issues, as the paper issued when China Minmetals was courting Noranda. Jim’s statement on Minmetals can be read at:


We will continue to monitor this situation and will report any findings to the membership as quickly as possible.


Rick Grylls,


Mine Mill/CAW – Local 598


Bob Beck

Unit Chair – Falconbridge

Mine Mill/CAW – Local 598

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Wednesday October 12, 2005

Mine Mill 598/CAW Merger News

News of the merger between INCO and Falconbridge has raised a considerable number of questions in the workplace, such as, “What sort of impact will this merger have on my job? How safe is my pension going to be after the merger and so on…”

At present the Union is actively seeking answers to these and other questions as they crop up. We are committed to maintaining our open communications policy with the membership and as such will relay any information we obtain as soon as it becomes available. As has been our practice in the past, we will issue newsletters at the worksites, send out email updates, and will post the information you need on our website.

Do Not Panic

Without a doubt there will concern about what the future will hold and this will lead to a good deal of hearsay and rumors cropping up in the workplace regarding this process. Everyone will have to wait it out in order to learn how the merger will unfold and the impact it will have on our working lives. At this point in time there is no point in spreading rumours or unfounded speculation. The Union is in contact with the Legal Department at the National office and is referring questions regarding the security of our pensions and the issue of successor rights under Article 68(1) of the Labour Relations Act to them. The answers will be distributed as quickly as possible to the membership. We have set up a Questions and Answers segment on the web page that will be updated as often as necessary.

Company Meeting

Bob Beck and Rick Grylls will be attending an information meeting with Mike Dufresne, Mark Trevisiol and Lori Horner at 7 a.m. Thursday. We will also be requesting the six month meeting with corporate management in Toronto as agreed to in the letters of understanding agreed to in the 2004 negotiations,(the last meeting took place in February of this year). We will request this meeting take place as soon as possible. The issues we will want tabled at this meeting would include items such as job security, benefits, hiring plans, training issues and any other questions or concerns that can be best clarified by discussions at this level.


As stated above, we are open to any questions you might have and are committed to keep the flow of information coming as we learn it. 

If you are not already on the list and wish to be included on the membership email distribution list send an email to:


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Press Release

This morning Inco and Falconbridge announced the merger of the two companies. This merger will take the form of a friendly takeover of Falconbridge Limited by Inco.

This is clearly very early in the process but Mine Mill is prepared to make some preliminary comments.

The Union is in basic agreement with any process that will maximize the long term potential of the natural resources that form the basis of the wealth in the Sudbury Basin.

We support any initiative that will serve to provide long term security and benefits to the working people of this region. We as organized labour feel that the natural resources must be exploited in a manner that benefits the people of Ontario and the Sudbury District. These benefits must include:

·        Good-paying long term jobs for the workforce now in place and those employed by the new Inco.

·        The possibility of secure jobs for the youth of our community

·        Continued concern for the environment of this region by the Corporation that will exploit the natural resources.

·        And the continuation of benefits and pensions into retirement for the workers who produce the wealth for the shareholders of the new corporate entity.

We did hear some discussion about synergies in the webcast held this morning and the Union agrees that there have been lost opportunities in the past. For example, in the 1980’s no all-encompassing agreement could be reached on the exploitation of the Cryderman deposit from the then existing East Mine. More recently an opportunity was lost at Crean Hill when Lockerby Mine was closed. The realization of this potential has been left to a third party, First Nickel Inc.

At this point in time this is being touted as a friendly takeover, but the final picture may not develop as planned, as there may still be the potential for an unfriendly takeover by Xstrata for example. Xstrata recently purchased just over 20% of the Falconbridge Ltd. stock mainly from Brascan.

The final outcome with respect to the Unions involved is a matter that will be left to the OLRB and the workforce of the combined company in the Sudbury Basin to work out.


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Mine Mill Book Launch

Wednesday March 23, 2005

Mine Mill – Local 598 held a very successful book launch in the Joe Hill Auditorium at the Hall on Regent Street on Wednesday March 23. The only real issue that prevented the affair from being a complete success was the lack of a book to actually launch. Due to issues beyond our control; the publishers were unable to have the book ready as promised for the Wednesday night affair. That being said, approximately 175 people showed up to place their orders, to socialize with other Union activists, and to listen to Jim Stanford, economist for the CAW deliver his lecture, “Labour’s Roller Coaster”. In addition the short film about the 2000-2001 strike, “One Day Longer” by Stewart Cryer was shown. Kevin Closs provided musical entertainment.

Our book, “Mine Mill Fights Back”, which documents the strikes of 2000 and 2004, should be ready for delivery to those who placed orders within the next couple of weeks. This hard covered book is the latest effort made by this Local to document the history of working people here in the Sudbury Area, will consist of 260 pages and highlighted with a large number of photographs. Ten preview copies were delivered to allow those present to get a feel for the result of all of the work that went into the project. The editors: Kaili Beck, Mercedes Steedman, Gary Kinsman, and Peter Suschnigg where on hand to speak to the gathering about various aspects of the work. Chris Bowes who was also a contributing editor was unable to attend.

Those who were able to attend the launch were also treated to Jim Stanford’s lecture, which was the second in the Jennifer Keck Lecture Series on Social Justice. Jim’s lecture provided a clear alternative, socialist view to the right wing view of economics that is so prevalent in today’s society. It put the history of Canada’s economy and the corporate agenda of the latter part of the twentieth century into perspective and highlighted the opportunities and pitfalls that could be encountered by labour when bargaining a better deal for working people over the near and medium term future. For those who are interested, Jim’s column, Facts From the Fringe, can be accessed from the CAW National’s website.

As previously stated, music was provided by Kevin Closs who also told the story of how he met Utah Phillips at a concert held in the main hall in the early nineties. At that time Utah Phillips who was performing at a concert at the Hall, was bringing some of Joe Hill’s ashes to the last remaining Mine Mill Local, placed some of the ashes into Kevin’s guitar. Kevin Closs played that guitar in the Joe Hill Auditorium on Wednesday evening.

Other Links: Sudbury News Now

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On March 3rd and 4th, 2005 Dwight Harper and Arno Sakki, and I attended a forum in Toronto sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety entitled, “New Strategies for Recognizing and Preventing Occupation Disease”. Representing Falconbridge Ltd. was Donna Kirkpatrick.

To some extent, this gathering was over-shadowed by the tragic events of Mayerthorpe, Alberta, where R.C.M.P. Constables Tony Gordon (28), Peter Schiemann (25), Leo Johnston (32) and Brock Myrol (29) were killed.

Dying while at work, no matter what occupation you are in, gives concern to the standard questions asked:

  • What?

  • Where?

  • When?

  • Why” and

  • How?

Developing an occupational disease while still at work or after you have retired, requires the same scrutiny in determining the causes associated with a particular workplace contaminant, be it fumes, gases, exhaust emissions, dust conditions, asbestosis, silicosis and occupational asthma/cancer.

As noted by a number of speakers, some diseases have a latency period of 15-20 years before they are detected.

Finding the exact cause can be a daunting task as to determining the dominant factor or contributing cause.

All of the speakers spoke with a perspective from a personal story,  “Historical Perspective on Occupational Disease, Recognition and Compensation of Occupational Disease, Emerging Occupational Safety and Health Issues of the 21st Century, and “Demographics and Occupational Disease.”

Of particular interest to all was, “Stress – An International Perspective”, presented by Professor Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health.

What we do while working has a bearing on our overall health and well- being. 

Where we work has an impact in whatever job you do.

When we work, should concern you as to the hours you put in and the shift schedule you have to do.

How you work is most important – using all of your personal protective equipment and Stop and Correct and report all injuries.

Why you work, may elicit various answers, the main reason is to earn a living in a safe and protective manner while performing your duties, in an environment which is controlled and monitored so that the industrial pollutants do not come back years later to wreak havoc in your body.

Be safe and be aware of your surroundings and conditions in your workplace.  Your life depends on it.

For further information, you can visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety at www.ccohs.ca, as a number of recommendations are posted for public comment.

Wayne Nitchie

Compensation, Health & Welfare Officer.

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Apprentice Training – The Key to Our Economic Future

 ~ August 05, 2004.

Recently, while looking through the mass of papers left by my predecessors in this office, I came across a pamphlet reprinted, in 1980, from a series of articles by Jim Tester that had appeared in "Northern Life". The topic was apprenticeship training, and compared the training practices in the former East German republic and Canada. My first reaction was how much the world has changed politically since these articles appeared. My second reaction is how little things have changed in the educational system over the past twenty-five years.

In the forward to this little booklet Horst Doehler writes:

"Imagine – with 8 per cent unemployment, Canada is short of skilled workers. This shortage goes back over many years as we have always depended on Europe’s training programs to supply our industries with skilled labour. They are no longer coming."

As Jim Tester shows in this study, no serious apprenticeship program exists in Canada to solve the problem.

During our negotiations this past winter, your Bargaining Committee pressed the Company to implement a training package and to hire apprentices. They agreed that there existed a serious shortage of skilled people in the mining industry. This shortage was especially acute in the area of skilled trades. They were not however, willing to make the leap of faith and implement the programs proposed by the Union. They view training as a cost rather than an investment in the future. What they did agree to was a rather vague commitment to:

"Implement an Apprenticeship Program for a maximum of 6 Electrical and/or a maximum of 1 Millwright should the Company be unsuccessful in its efforts to hire."

Of the twenty-six skilled trades people they committed to hire in during negotiations, they have managed to hire five. There is still no commitment to apprenticeships. It is clear that the shortage of skilled trades people that existed in 1980 is still an issue today, almost 25 years later.

The shortage of skilled labour also extends into the production departments. There are simply no skilled people out there for the Company to hire as our aging workforce heads off into retirement. In his study, Jim Tester wrote that, "It may come as a surprise to Sudburians, but the most respected tradesmen in Europe are the miners." I have been employed in this industry for thirty-six years and it has been at least twenty-five years since the idea of recognizing mining as a skilled trade has been seriously discussed, by either the company or by government. It has been years since the company ran a "school stope" to train miners.

Indeed, recent governments have done a great deal to undermine the trades in this province. The emphasis of the education system in this country has been to gear students to continuing education at the college or university level. As a result this country probably has sufficient computer programmers but those of our youth who for one reason or another are not considered suitable candidates for higher education fall through the cracks and are left with low wage, low skill jobs with no future. Meanwhile, there is an acute shortage of skilled labour.

Young people are not given the education or the opportunity to get into apprenticeships that will lead to good jobs that pay good wages and provide a measure of security. They are not given the opportunity to learn how to work. More shocking still are the numbers of graduates from our school systems who are functionally illiterate, in other words they have graduated but cannot read and write well enough to communicate effectively in today’s society.

Without proper apprenticeship programs that are funded by government and supported by industry, the Canadian economy cannot prosper. The failure to train our young people will result in added costs right across our society. Industry will be forced to compete for a diminishing pool of skilled workers, and our society in general will suffer from lower levels of productivity. Without apprenticeships and appropriate training programs we are on a slippery slope that will in the end have a serious impact on our own and our children’s economic well-being.

Bob Beck,

Falconbridge Unit Chair


For more information on  apprenticeships and skilled trades issues check these links:


2002 CAW Convention - Bargaining Program, Skilled Trades

CAW Leads Drive for National Apprenticeship Program


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Remembering Kimberly Rogers

August 11, 2004

Several members of Mine Mill's executive committee attended a memorial at the Provincial Building in Sudbury to remember Kimberly Rogers. Ms. Rogers died while eight months pregnant, and under house arrest for welfare fraud. She had been found guilty of accepting welfare while in receipt of a student loan. Something that until the Harris-Eves Tories took power provincially was legal. The poor in our society are being punished for trying to better their lot in life while some of the elite are allowed to defraud our economic system on a grand scale with impunity. 

This use of the legal system against a member of our community's poor by the previous government in Queen's Park continues to focus attention on the issue of poverty in our society and the lack of committment by government to any meaningful steps to correct this injustice. To date the Liberals under Dalton McGuinty have committed to increase welfare payments by three per cent over the next several years. Not only is the amount wholly insufficient, given that there has been no increase to account for inflation in the past nine years, none of the increase has shown up in the hands of the poor.

Speakers at this memorial vigil included Shelley Martel, the NDP member in Queen's Park for Nickel Belt, Molly Hancock, a long time activist in Sudbury, and Gary Kinsman, a spokesman for SCAP.

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