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Striking Rockwool workers in Grand Forks reject latest offer

Unionized employees have been on picket line since Aug. 25
Striking Rockwool workers gathered at the United Steelworkers Union tent in front of the company management office to get their ballot to vote on a tentative agreement. Ballots will be counted Saturday evening. Photo Karen McKinley

Striking employees of Rockwool rejected an agreement that was brought to them for voting on Friday and Saturday afternoon.

Unionized workers voted on the deal Friday and Saturday, with votes counted on Saturday afternoon with 66 per cent against the deal.

Workers who’ve been on strike for nearly a month met at the United Steelworkers Union tent in front of Rockwool’s management office to get their ballots to vote on the agreement.

Katie Crane, first vice-president for United Steel Workers Union Local 1-423 said negotiating teams for both parties reached an agreement through a mediator on Sept. 19, then had striking members come together on the following weekend to vote on it.

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Without revealing too many details about the agreement, Crane said it was a slightly better deal than what the company had offered before, but it’s up to striking workers to decide if they agree with it or not.

“We are not going to get everything we want, that’s how negotiations are,” she said.

In previous comments, Crane said whatever the decision, USW hoped for a wide enough margin that it allows for no hard feelings among members and they have a clear direction.

Before the weekend vote, Sarah Sinovic, director of Public Affairs & Communications for Rockwool’s North American operations, said negotiations continue and the company will provide more information when there are definitive updates.

In addition, the company released a statement acknowledging it breached Section 68 of the Labour Relations Code when they utilized contractor trucking in the secured bay area.

“We agree to not resume shipping until the end of the strike and our employees have returned to work,” the statement read.

With this acknowledgement, USW Local 1-423 agreed to withdraw the complaint it filed before the BC Labour Relations Board.

Workers have been on strike since Aug. 25, with 160 people hitting the picket line.