Lethbridge food processing workers win 10% wage increase

Workers voted 76% in favour of the new agreement, after being without an agreement for over 6 months.

Earlier this month, Lethbridge workers with Nortera ratified a new collective agreement.

Formerly known as Bonduelle, Nortera is a Québec-based food processing company that specializes in preparing canned and frozen vegetables.

The latest collective agreement for these workers expired in March.

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In an email to The Alberta Worker, Darin Melnechenko, vice president and business agent for Local 987 of Teamsters Canada, reported that the workers began negotiating with the employer in late April.

Negotiations consisted of 10 sessions over about 6 months, and the workers’ bargaining team presented a tentative agreement to the workers for ratification on 4 November. Of the workers who participated in the ratification vote, 76% voted in favour of it.

The new 3-year collective agreement is effective 6 March 2022 and includes wage increases in each of those years:

  • 4.50% as of 6 March 2022
  • 3.00% in 2023
  • 2.75% in 2024

In addition, several worker groups will receive market adjustments to hourly wages:

Engineer 3$2.75
General plant worker$2.00
Seasonal worker$2.00

Workers will also see increases to shift premiums.

For example, under the old contract, workers who were on call could receive $100 a week. On-call workers will now be entitled to $125 a week under the news contract.

As well, the shift differential will increase from 65¢ an hour to $1 an hour, and the lead hand 1 premium increased from $3.00 an hour to $3.50 an hour.

The old contract provided $125 to each worker for a boot allowance, and this was increased to $175.

Finally, workers will get up to 300 hours of paid sick leave, which is more than the 240 hours they received under the previous contract.

According to Melnechenko, the workers’ bargaining team traditionally would have to present 2, or even 3, tentative offers to the workers before one would finally be ratified.

“This time around both sides came into the negotiations with the intention of getting a fair deal,,” he said. “I believe we were able to bring back a solid offer from the employer, and that was proven by the strong margin of acceptance by our members.”

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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