Union membership with United Steelworkers in the southern interior returned a 98 per cent strike mandate over the last 10 days of balloting by three locals in Cranbrook, Kelowna and Kamloops.
The vote was conducted by members with USW Local 1-405 (Kootenays), USW 1-423 (Kelowna) and USW1-417 (Kamloops).
The bargaining committee will return to Kelowna on Tuesday, Oct. 30, with hopes to negotiate a contract with the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association – Southern Employer, according to a bulletin released by Local 1-405.
Mills covered under the collective agreement include Galloway Lumber; Stella-Jones Pole Plant; Canfor Elko; Canfor Woodlands (Trucking; Cranbrook Mechanic Shop; Wood Chipper at Skookumchuk; not the pulp mill itself); Canfor Radium; Louisiana Pacific – Golden; Interfor – Castlegar.
Roughly 800 members are employed with those operations across the East and West Kootenay, and 3,500 across the southern interior of the province.
Negotiations have stalled what the USW calls a concession list from the IFLRA, that include issues such as health and welfare benefit changes, alternate shift schedules, extending the probationary period and more.