Regular business hours at seven Kootenay Savings Credit Union (KSCU) branches resume Thursday after a new four-year collective agreement was reached last week.
Both parties announced a ratified settlement this weekend and released details on the new terms.
“The ratification vote ends a contentious month-long dispute that began Oct. 28 when the employer looked out their employees,” the union stated in its release.”The ratified agreement contains wage and benefit improvements for the USW (United Steelworkers) members, but more importantly, shores up the protective pension language in the collective agreement while also providing some certainly for the employer by capping their liability.”
KSCU President and CEO Brent Tremblay confirmed its board of directors voted to accept the new agreement while the majority of bargaining unit employees also voted in favour of the deal.
“On behalf of our entire board of directors and senior management team, I am extremely pleased that both bargaining teams came together and worked diligently this past week to arrive at an agreement that was able to be fully supported by both parties,” he said in a Nov. 25 statement. “We understand this labour dispute has been disruptive and unsettling for some of our members, and created challenging circumstances for all of our valued employees. It is absolutely our priority to have our staff return to their regular positions with a continued commitment to take ownership for meeting our members’ financial needs.”
Notably union employees will return to work for a half day on Wednesday.
That means for the first time in 27 days, doors to Fruitvale and Salmo branches will be open from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. then return to usual hours the following day.
“We returned to the table on Tuesday (Nov. 22) and the employer came back with a clear change in the approach to resolving the pension issue,” said Dean Lott, USW staff rep. “Their offer of a minimum annual contribution of $200,000 to cover any potential shortfall if pension changers were made gave our members comfort that their pension level would be protected while at the same time giving the employer certainty in their liability,” he added. “That’s if there are any changes made to the pension plan. If there isn’t, there’s no impact on the employer or our members.”
Lott says provincial mediate Dave Schaub assisted the parties, and once the pension issue was agreed upon late Tuesday night, the other outstanding issued fell into place the following day.
Details of the new agreement include: $1000 lump sum in Year 1; $1000 lump sum in Year 2; 1.5 per cent wage increase in Year 3 and two per cent in Year 4; resolution of the Pension Protection Language issue; Improved Vision Care benefit to $300/bi-annually; Increased Heath Care Spending Account to $500/annually; Increased Paramedical Benefits from $200 to $500 annually but capping massages to $500 annually.