The first strike at Vale Canada in more than a decade is drawing to a close after unionized workers at the Sudbury, Ont., mine ratified a collective agreement that includes improved pension and health benefits.
Through the agreement — which expires May 31, 2026 — the monthly pre-age 65 defined benefit pension will increase by $50 to $3,800 upon ratification and to $3,850 on June 1, 2023. The basic benefit will increase by $1 per year to $62, rising to $63 in two years.
Effective Jan. 1, 2022, defined contribution plan members can make additional voluntary unmatched contributions of one to 19 per cent of the regular base wage. In addition, new hires can immediately initiate automatic enrolment for voluntary contributions of six per cent of base wages that will be matched by the company.
In terms of health benefits, the agreement includes that prescription drug coverage for active members will require the use of mandatory generic drugs unless a doctor determines they aren’t effective; the employee contribution is increasing to $4 per prescription and the employer-paid dispensing fee is capped at $10 per prescription; vision coverage is increasing $25 to $350 every three years; and post-retirement health benefits will be provided for all future hires.
As well, sick pay will increase $25 to $700 per week, while bereavement leave is increasing to five consecutive days.
The agreement also provides a $2,500 payment in August in recognition of efforts during the coronavirus pandemic, a $3,500 signing bonus to be paid in September and a six per cent wage increase and minimum $2.46 per hour cost of living adjustment over five years.
In a message to members, the union said the deal was reached after two weeks of “challenging negotiations” with the help of a facilitator that recognized their contributions to the company’s success and addressed issues demanded by workers, including protecting future generations of workers.
The labour disruption began June 1 after workers rejected a proposal by the Brazilian mining company and opposed a subsequent offer. “The past two months have been challenging for everyone,” said Dino Otranto, chief operating officer, North Atlantic operations for Vale. “We’re pleased that the company and the union were able to find common ground and a path forward. We look forward to welcoming everyone back.”