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Teck Trail workers vote 99% in favor of strike

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The two locals of the United Steelworkers representing employees of the Teck smelter in Trail have voted nearly unanimously in favour of a strike.

In a Facebook post, the bargaining committee for Local 480 and Local 9705 said that of 1,080 votes cast at mass membership meetings, only six were against taking strike action. That represented about 90 per cent of the membership.

“This is an even higher turnout than in 2017, making this an extremely strong strike mandate,” they said. “Especially considering that the lingering effects of COVID limited some people’s ability to get out to vote.”

The union says the next step will be discussions involving veteran mediator Vince Ready on June 26 and 27. This will not be binding arbitration, they added.

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“After both the union and company have presented our arguments to Mr. Ready, we will try to reach an agreement,” they said.

Local 480 president Chris Walker wouldn’t reveal what the key issues are, but noted they have been meeting with the company since May and an impasse was reached last week.

He said he wasn’t surprised at the outcome of the strike vote.

“This membership has always backed their committees and we went to them for that help. Once again they delivered. I’m very proud of this membership.”

In a brief prepared statement, Teck said: “Our focus is on reaching an agreement that is fair to employees and supports the long-term sustainability of Trail operations.”

The last contract expired on June 1.

In 2017, workers also voted over 99 per cent in favour of strike action but a contract was reached following mediation.

The last time the smelter saw workers walk out was in 2005, when a strike lasted more than two months.

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