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Lethbridge manufacturing workers apply for strike vote

Their most recent collective agreement expired nearly 2.5 years ago.

Earlier this week, the Alberta Labour Relations Board released their most recent New Applications Report. In the report is a new application for a strike vote in Alberta.

The application was submitted on 8 July 2022 by Local 99 of Unifor. They’re applying for an ALRB supervised strike vote that would affect over 200 workers employed by Kawneer Company Canada Limited

Kawneer, a division of Alcoa, is an American manufacturing firm that specializes in producing a broad range of architectural aluminum systems, from curtain walls and entrances to framing systems and windows.

They have a manufacturing plant in Lethbridge, which opened in 1983 and which is where these workers are located.

The most recent collective agreement between Kawneer and Unifor Local 99 expired at the end of February 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was underway.

According the monthly Bargaining Update published by Alberta Labour & Immigration, the two parties were still in bargaining as of March 2021, over a year after the agreement had expired. However, starting with the April 2021 update, bargaining switched to mediation, and they were still in mediation as of last month’s report.

Their previous agreement expired at the end of February 2017, and it wasn’t replaced with the latest agreement until the following October, 8 months later. And that was after two months of mediation, according to Alberta Labour & Immigration 2017 bargaining updates.

The workers at Kawneer had threatened a strike in 2011, when they were with the Canadian Auto Workers, one of Unifor’s predecessors. Armed with the threat of the strike vote, the bargaining team was able to get the employer to finally concede an agreement they could present to the workers, 75% of which voted in favour of accepting that agreement.

The ALRB hadn’t schedule a hearing for this application, at least not according to the hearing the schedule they published this past Tuesday.

Since the ALRB doesn’t archive their new application reports, here’s a copy of the most recent one.

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By Kim Siever

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

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