Local 245 members of Unifor Quebec at WestRock have voted 86% to ratify a tentative agreement reached with the employer, ending a lockout that began September 30.
“After nearly eight weeks of conflict, we were finally able to find a common ground that satisfies both parties,” said Unifor National Representative Joël Vigeant. “That’s the most important thing. Now we have to turn our attention to the future.”
The previous collective agreement expired on May 1, 2019, and negotiations had gone on for many months. The new collective agreement expires on April 30, 2025, covering a term of just over four years. The union’s members achieved several gains, including the following:
- Increase in the employer’s contribution to health/paramedical and dental insurance;
- Increase in the maximum amounts payable for long-term disability benefits;
- Increase in life insurance coverage;
- Extension of the temporary pension plan (DB) formula to April 30, 2026;
- Optional employer contribution of up to 3%, based on the amount contributed by the employee
- 13% salary increase over the term of the collective agreement for all employees, including retroactivity from May 1, 2019, a key demand in the negotiations;
- Additional salary adjustments for certain positions in two departments;
- Time allocated to allow the union to meet with new employees.
The new agreement follows 15 regular bargaining sessions and 12 sessions with a conciliator. On September 30, the union launched a one-day strike at 3:00pm. The employer retaliated by ordering a lockout at 3:30pm the same day. Prior to reaching the current agreement, a recommendation by the conciliator was rejected in a vote of 77% on November 18.
The WestRock plant in Pointe-aux-Trembles employs more than 50 Unifor members who produce cardboard used in the food industry, including packaging for bacon and cardboard cups for hot and cold beverages.