I was reviewing the most recent new applications report from the Alberta Labour Relations Board, when I noticed a union had applied with ALRB for a strike vote.
Local 362 with the General Teamsters Union applied filed their application on 23 December 2022. They represent nearly 70 Edmonton workers employed with Inland Concrete, a division of Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd.
There wasn’t much information in the application details, so I reached out to Gary Hulowski, the business agent with Local 362, for details.
The most recent collective agreement between the Inland Concrete workers and their employer expired at the end of last month. According to Hulowski, the union and the employer had preplanned bargaining dates last March, with the first proposal exchange set for 21 November.
Hulowski claimed that at that meeting, the employer informed the union’s bargaining team that they had filed for mediation. Yep, that’s right. They filed for mediation before they had done any bargaining.
Under Alberta labour law, the first two days of mediation are free. After that, parties have to pay $250 per hour, to a maximum of $3,000 per day.
The first day of mediated negotiations occurred on 19 December, and Hulowski told me that after that meeting, the employer asked the mediator for their recommendation, after presenting what Hulowski referred to as “very concessionary” proposals, which means they’re hoping the workers would give up a significant amount in this new contract.
This automatically triggers a 14-day cooling off period, during which time, the employer can apply for a lockout with ALRB. Hulowski claims that the unions application for a strike vote was preemptive, to ensure they’re not left empty handed should a lockout occur.
After all, their most recent contract came after a strike vote, too, according to Hulowski.
Hulowski said that the union was informed last week that the company had indeed applied for a lockout.
The strike vote occurred the evening of 5 January, and of those who participated in the vote, 85% voted in favour. This doesn’t mean they are about to strike; it just shows the employer that the workers are willing to strike if it came down to it.
The next mediated bargaining session was scheduled for yesterday
Since the ALRB new application report is replaced each Monday, I’ve attached a copy below for anyone who’s interested in more information.
Update (9 January 2023): Leigh Hanson Materials did indeed apply for a lockout, which you can see in the document below, which was taken from this week’s new applications report from ALRB.