Mine workers seeking union representation

Rudy Norman
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United Steel Workers may move into Rambler

Workers at Rambler Metals and Mining have taken steps to join the United Steel Workers (USW) union.

Lawrence McKay, Atlantic Coordinator with USW, confirmed this week that the Union has been making strides to recruit workers at the operation for several months.

Rambler’s goal to have the Ming Mine site up and running within five years is looking promising. Management expects to be in operation by fall 2011.

McKay says they were contacted last year by workers at the mining site near Ming’s Bight, and initiated the process of recruiting workers to sign a card indicating their interest in joining the union.

“We started signing cards in early November (2013) and we filed for certification in December,” he said.

McKay is referring to the process used when workers approach a union seeking representation by signing a union card and indicating interest in being represented by a union.

Provincial legislation says that if a Union has 65 per cent of a workforce that signs a card, a vote isn’t required and the union automatically is certified in the workforce. Forty per cent of the workforce needs to sign in order for workers to be able to vote whether they want union representation.

McKay says he isn’t sure of the percentage of workers that signed cards at Rambler, but believes it to be just short of not needing a vote.

“Obviously it wasn’t 65 per cent,” he said, “but I believe it was pretty close – certainly well above the 40 per cent needed to take the vote.”

This isn’t the first time the USW has tried to get a foothold on the Rambler Mines worksite.

“A couple of years ago, they (workers) took a vote as well, but at that time it was defeated,” says McKay.

He believes, however, that this time around things are going to be different.

“We’ve been getting very good feedback,” he says. “It’s been fairly easy to get people to sign the cards and we’ve gotten a good response from the workers that are there now.”

McKay says he believes the majority of workers at the mine realize that they need union representation.

USW ordered the union vote last week, which took place on site as well as through mail-in ballot.

McKay says it will be a couple weeks before they receive all mail-in ballots. After the ballots have been collected, he said, USW supervises the counting process. If more than 50 per cent vote in favor, then USW will become the Union for workers of Rambler.

“After that we would elect a local executive and negotiate a collective agreement with the company.”

McKay says the feedback from Rambler has been fair thus far, and says the company is just protecting its interests.

“I wouldn’t say they’ve been cooperative, but they’re certainly not the worst company we’ve dealt with,” he says.

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