Unifor has reached a long-term contract with Kenora Forests Products to restart sawmill operations by the beginning of 2015.
The new deal will result in millions of dollars in capital investment to modernize the mill and to install an additional saw line for expanded lumber production, according to the union.
Kenora Forest Products has been shuttered since April 2008 when the crash of the U.S. housing market caused its Manitoba parent company, Prendiville Industries, to close the operation and lay off 105 employees.
Stephen Boon, Unifor national representative said, "a large amount of time and energy went into negotiating this deal and now the only remaining hurdle to resume sawmill operations in Kenora is final Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) approval of the mill's wood supply. Kenora supported two sawmills and a large pulp and paper mill prior to 2005, so we are confident the MNR will have little trouble ensuring Kenora Forest Products secures the necessary wood supply crucial for restoring operations at one of the city's three closed mills.”
Trades pay will reach almost $36 an hour with production pay averaging close to $27 an hour in the final year of a six-year agreement.
"A successful sawmill re-start is not only good news for the company, our members and the city of Kenora, but also for members of the area's Aboriginal community,” said Boon.
Unifor and Kenora Forest Products further committed to ensuring the area's Aboriginal groups also share the benefits of a re-opened sawmill by establishing a 30 per cent employment target for Aboriginal participation in the mill’s workforce.
"Kenora has been particularly hard hit by massive forestry job losses over the last decade and this new mill re-start deal promises to restore hundreds of direct and indirect jobs to the community while also providing key monetary and language improvements for over 100 unionized mill employees,” said Boon.