Pete, Daryl, Jim and I traveled to Crofton today where we met with company and union reps to talk about flexibility and vending machines. Vern Phillips, John Fitzpatrick and Bob Laekeman were also present for the company. Dale Shimell spearheaded the meeting from Crofton along with a couple of other company people. Phil Davies, President of PPWC Local 2 was there along with a couple of other maintenance guys. Phil is a millwright and there was a pipefitter and a mason who is the vibration analyst. These guys spoke freely about the good and the bad and gave good counterpoint to some of the things the company reps were saying although they were mostly in agreement.
It was very informative for us and I can say that they do work a bit more flexibly than we do, but certainly not to the extent that we have been led to believe. Their history is such that they have been through the mistakes and the money-wasting training that never got used and have reached a point where common sense seems to prevail for the most part. Hopefully, our company reps heard that message also.
So, if we were to follow Crofton as a model on flexibility, things would look slightly different here (at least in my opinion) but not hugely different. We talked to a couple of former millwrights from Port Alberni who are now in Crofton and they said things weren't that much different.
We also discussed vending machines and saw how they work. Again, there seem to be some advantages, but also some disadvantages. A big problem seems to be on shutdown days when they run empty real fast. A key point for us is that it is mill stores people that stock the machines, not the vendor, which is what they have been pushing for in Port Alberni. This was good information for us. Local 2 is currently waiting for an arbitration decision on a tech change grievance around the elimination of two jobs in mill stores. The union said it was due to the vending machines. The company denied that and the union took the fight all the way. Things aren't always golden in the company's favorite mill.
So, we will continue to work on something that we can use to try and get some packages to take care of displaced employees. It is not an easy task and we are taking great care in addressing some of the issues the company has requested. We are meeting again on Thursday to continue working on all of this. I will try and give you a further update Thursday night even if it is to just say that we are still working on things.