Steelworkers strike at Timberland Equipment as company attacks retirement security

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WOODSTOCK, Ontario–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Employees at Timberland Equipment’s Woodstock manufacturing plant, members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, are on strike to resist the company’s attacks on their retirement security.

“There is no justification for this company’s demand to unilaterally weaken the retirement security of its employees,” said Myles Sullivan, United Steelworkers Ontario Director.

“Labour peace has reigned at Timberland Equipment for more than three decades. Over the years, workers have made compromises and sacrifices to sustain the company when times were tough,” noted Sullivan.

“But now that times are good, the current ownership group is taking a very different approach than in the past. They want to unilaterally weaken the pensions of their employees. They have no interest in compromising or negotiating with the workers who are primarily responsible for the profitability and financial strength of the company,” he added.

The strike by 53 Timberland Equipment workers began on June 26. The majority of workers are long-term employees who benefit from a secure defined benefit pension plan. A smaller number of workers, hired in recent years, benefit from a defined contribution pension scheme which was introduced several years ago when the union sought to cooperate with the company to deal with difficult economic conditions .

Now, despite workers’ past sacrifices and the fact that they generated significant profits for the company, Timberland ownership is seeking to eliminate the defined benefit pension plan and refusing to improve the defined contribution pension plan. .

“For us, it’s a matter of respect. Our members have made sacrifices in the past, and they’ve made a lot of money for this company, but it doesn’t seem to matter,” said Adam Caron, president of Steelworkers Local 446M, representing workers. from Timberland.

“This business is very profitable and our defined benefit pension plan is in very good shape. So there is no reason for the company to abolish the pension plan. It’s just something they want to impose on their employees,” Caron said.

During negotiations, the USW offered a compromise solution that would save the company money by transferring all workers to the USW Pension Plan, which is run by the union. Dozens of companies in Canada, with thousands of employees, already contribute to the RCR as a cost-effective plan to provide retirement security for their workers.

“It was a very reasonable proposition that we made to the company. Even the Ministry of Labor mediator thought it was a reasonable proposal,” Caron said.

“Unfortunately, the company doesn’t seem interested in being reasonable. Their approach simply tells us, “this is what we are going to do”. They are not interested in compromising or discussing options. It’s their way or the highway, and they called a strike,” he said.

“For workers, it’s a matter of respect.”

The Steelworkers Union has indicated that it is prepared to return to the bargaining table at any time to resume serious negotiations.

Timberland Equipment manufactures industrial winches, hoists, pulleys, derricks and tensioning equipment.

The United Steelworkers represents 225,000 members in almost every economic sector in Canada and is the largest private sector union in North America, with 850,000 members in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.

Every year, thousands of workers choose to join the United Steelworkers because of our strong track record in creating healthier, safer and more respectful workplaces and in negotiating better working conditions and more compensation. fair – including good wages, benefits and pensions.

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