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Sudbury Steelworkers reject second Vale contract offer

With Sudbury mining, smelting operation shuttered, Vale COO admits 'we remain apart on important issues'
Vale picket line
(Arron Pickard/

Members of Steelworkers Local 6500 in Sudbury voted June 14 to reject Vale’s latest collective agreement offer.

As expected, the bargaining committee recommended its members vote against this latest five-year contract offer. A press release from the union said 87 per cent of members voted against the contract offer.

Picket lines went up at Vale’s Sudbury mining and processing operations on June 1 after union members voted down an initial recommended contract offer that came from 6500’s bargaining committee. Management at Vale opted to shut down all operations in the Sudbury basin.

“We are disappointed that our improved offer for settlement was turned down,” said Dino Otranto, Vale's chief operating officer for North Atlantic, in a press release. 

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“Our offer was a genuine and sincere attempt to address the issues brought forth by the Union’s bargaining committee in the most recent round of discussions. Clearly, we remain apart on important issues.”

Local 6500 said the contract offer rejected by the strikers had maintained Vale’s demands to weaken health benefits for existing workers and to eliminate the retiree health and medical benefit plan for all future hires. 

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The company had proposed a post-retirement $1,000 “health savings account” for future hires which would take away nearly 80 per cent of the coverage currently provided under the existing plan. Coverage for some medications and medical supplies would be nearly eliminated.

“Vale’s employees have said emphatically that they want this employer to stop attacking their benefits, to stop eroding the standard of living for the next generation, to stop taking more and more away from our families and our community, especially during good times,” said Steelworkers Local 6500 president Nick Larochelle, in a press release.

“The message from our members is clear: ‘Back off the concessions, get back to the table and negotiate a deal that puts people before profits- then the profits will flow’.”