The Norbord mill in Chambord, Quebec appears one step closer to reopening since 40 members of Unifor Local 502Q unanimously approved the renewal of their collective agreement.
“This is good news and given that conditions in the forest industry remain tough, it deserves recognition,” said Quebec Director Renaud Gagné.
This plant, previously owned by Louisiana-Pacific, suspended its operations in October 2008 when the market for oriented strand board panels went into free fall at the height of the economic crisis that decimated the construction market in the U.S.
“Since then, the market has recovered and demand for the product is high in the construction industry,” Gagné said. “Markets are also diversifying. This industry has a bright future.”
Over the past years, Unifor has lobbied elected officials and successive employers in order to preserve the mill and access to forest resources with the aim of ensuring favourable conditions for a reopening once the market recovered. “Now, our efforts and those of all the participants in this project will finally pay off, and that’s encouraging,” concluded Gagné.
The collective agreement comes with a term of over four years and wage increases of 2 per cent, 2 per cent, 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent. Gains include the implementation of a profit-sharing mechanism, the extension of recall rights from 24 to 36 months, double time on Sundays and improvements to tool allowances, group insurance and work clothes.
The resumption of operations, slated for early 2019, is notably attributable to an investment of $90 million in the mill. Over 100 jobs are expected to be created and consolidated, in addition to the indirect employment and forestry jobs generated.