Finning Returns to Bargaining Table

This morning (July 20) , Al Cyr and myself had a teleconference with Finning: Vice-President of Human Resources – Randy Jahrig, and Employee and Labour Relations Director – Kelly Ann Drabiuk. 

We are now booked for a meeting Friday AM with Mr. Jahrig and Kelly-Ann Drabiuk. The meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 22nd. We have told Finning that it is time to get this deal done! 

Accordingly, the Rally that was scheduled for tomorrow at Finning at 666 Burrard Street is CANCELLED.  

The purpose of the meeting was to get Finning back into the negotiations, and we have now achieved that. We will let you know the outcome of Friday’s meeting as soon as possible. 

Thanks for your ongoing support on the picket lines – we will continue to push for a resolution to this dispute.

 Stay Rock Solid!

Stan Pickthall

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Machinists Union Rejects Contract Offer from Finning

Friday July 14, 2011 

For Immediate Release 

Vancouver, BC –The strike at 25 Finning locations across British Columbia will continue after striking IAMAW members rejected the latest offer from the employer. 

On Thursday July 7, 2011, mediation ended with an offer for the employees to vote on. The Union was not satisfied with the Company’s proposal, but agreed to have their members vote on the revised offer. 

“Our members had an opportunity to vote on returning to work or staying on the picket lines, and they have affirmed their resolve to see this through.” said IAMAW District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative Stan Pickthall. “The employees have firmly rejected the Company’s offer.” 

Major issues in the Labour dispute include, subcontracting, statutory holidays on modified shifts (an issue in the mining sector), wages, and duration of agreement. 

“The Union’s Bargaining Committee has told the Company what they need to do in order to get a recommendation,” explained Pickthall. He noted that the Union membership agreed to zero percent when the Company was in trouble two years ago. “Now times are different, Finning recently reported record profits for the first quarter of 2011.” 

“On the language issues, the Company knows what the problems are in the areas of subcontracting and modified shifts.” 

The Union has advised Finning they are available to resume negotiations at any time. 

-30- 

For further information:

Stan Pickthall – IAMAW District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative
604-513-3883/604-992-9145

Alain Cyr – IAMAW District Lodge 250 Business Representative
604-513-3883/604-309-0443

Bill Trbovich – IAMAW Director of Communications
416-386-1789 ext #6331/416-735-9765

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Open Letter to Finning – An Employee’s View

 July 10, 2011

Attention: Finning Executive Board

I have been with Finning longer than many of its employees and our members have been alive. I have seen the same mistakes made over and over. I have seen many of the same old ideas redressed as new. I still have my hat from over 25 years ago which highlights the “No Risk Repairs” which we offered then. I have to wonder which executive got the bonus for coming up with our “Customer Service Commitment”. Essentially the same thing with a different name.

For the entire time I have been with Finning one thing hasn’t changed. Finning sells, services and supports some of the best equipment out there and has the best worldwide support partner in this venture – Caterpillar. What has changed over the years is how the business is run. I encourage each and every one of you to go to the Finning Website and read at least the first few paragraphs on the “History of Finning”. I never met Earl B. Finning. I have met customers who still have machines that he sold to their fathers. I have to believe that while Earl B. Finning would be really impressed with the size and level of profitability that Finning has reached, I doubt that he would be happy with the way the company has become segmented. Mr. Finning had loyal employees who did not want to let him down. Recently we have lost a retiree / long term employee who put his heart and soul into Finning and at the time of his passing, not one Finning manager made the effort to show up for the service. To hear numerous references about how much Finning was part of his life and his family’s life during the eulogy for this man after close to 40 years of service, I was proud to be a member as I was beside other members showing and offering support to the families touched by the loss of this man. To see not one representative of management cast a shadow over the service which did not go unnoticed.

It was during the days that Vin Sood was in charge that I joined the company. I last saw him when he came into the office the Saturday the day before he passed. Since then the number of times that I have seen an executive in on a weekend have been few and far between. Back then we received our Christmas turkeys. (I guess they would have to be called festival birds or some other silly thing today.) In addition there was more of a sense of family and caring then. Finning today has issues retaining employees and can’t seem to see or doesn’t want to see why this is so. In today’s investment climate there is a perception that shareholders are only interested in what you did last quarter and management is only interested in looking at each employee and asking “what have you done for me lately”.

For the “Gearheads” out there, if you take a 3208 set up to put out 210 HP and let it go to work for you it will likely provide decades of loyal service provided that you treat it right by giving it the care and attention that it requires. If you take the same 3208, jack it up and ask it to put out 425 HP in the end you will likely invest much more than you would gain in performance. You may have a few productive periods (quarters), but in my opinion it is rather short sighted to do this. To take a pension plan that rewards you with a strong component for years of service and replace it with a plan that makes it easier than ever, once an employee has become vested, to jump ship to a competitor who offers a newer service truck or a dollar an hour more without losing a dime and to then question why it is hard to retain employees is another sign of clouded management thinking. Actually it is much more than clouded thinking. To change a pension plan to presumably better fix those costs at the expense of retaining employees shows a clear sign that you have more fear of your investors than you have faith in your company’s future.

It is the “Bonehead” style of management which may create short term up ticks in reported earnings that will ultimately bite Finning in the rear. For the most part I have little faith in the management team and not much more for the Finning (Canada) executives. Unfortunately it sure feels they have little faith in us. From where I sit the biggest difference is I believe that we should have faith in our management in order to have a constructive relationship. For this to happen they have to step up and show that they value and believe in us.

Funny thing though, unless I am mistaken, Finning has only ever had one unprofitable year. That would have been last year. While there were some years that the return to shareholders wasn’t much, until last year an annual loss had never before been reported. That loss was not as a result of the wage increases paid in Alberta, it was as a result of the disposition of an unprofitable business unit in the UK. It didn’t get much press and I tip my hat to Mike Waites for the positive spin on the year’s events. Guess what!? Our shareholders didn’t bail! I can only assume that they had faith in the basic underlying business that Finning operates. You see, today Finning is not much more than the sum of its People, its customers and its dealership agreement with Caterpillar. If any one of these are neglected the business will suffer. If these three components flourish, everyone including our shareholders win (many of us are shareholders too!). Finning sold most of its real estate years ago and now rents and leases most of its facilities in Canada. Finning owns inventory not much more.

If Finning settles with us and gives us a couple of points more what is the downside? Will the shareholders bail? Likely not and even if they did we win again in that we will pick up some cheap shares in a company of which we know the value. Can’t retain/attract employees? This should be less of a problem too, better wages means Finning is more attractive to employees. Set a precedent for our industry? Great news… perhaps our competitors can’t afford to match it! If they don’t they have a harder time attracting employees and if they do I can assure you will it affect them more than it would Finning.

In the end money is just one component of an employer / employee relationship. It is time for Finning to put its money where its mouth is… or in this case maybe put its money where its mouth should be. To explain, Finning Execs are not listening to /communicating with its employees and is for the most part only communicating with inexperienced and over promoted middle and senior management who are more yes men (and women) than anything else. As an example I present Lawson. Even Lawson promotes the slogan “Simpler is Better”. Go back and read the hype two years ago about how you wouldn’t have to remember all the codes of DBS. We are now buried in everything from OIS100 to MMS800 with hundreds of codes in between…. E I E I O. Finning didn’t listen before “Go Live” and as a result will suffer through much for a long time.

Until someone comes up with a way to put a clause in a collective agreement which ensures quality caring management interested in retaining loyal employees by treating them right and with respect all we can hit them for is slightly better language and more money. Finning showing some effort in ensuring the former would put less emphasis on the later. So far I haven’t seen it.

I am voting no!

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Finning Strike – Company Proposals – FAQ

These are some of the questions that are being asked on a regular basis by our members. They are being asked by email, comments on the website, and on the phone. I will try to answer them in a general way.
We urge everyone to review the Mediated Settlement Memorandum and consider it carefully before you cast your ballot.

 Q.        What is different from the last Finning offer?

 A.        For reference purposes, the previous Company offer is posted online, dated May 26th. There are four main changes in the current offer: 

  • This offer meets us halfway on the Subcontracting language, though it does not give us 15 days notice right away (only if a Branch or location screws up on consultation.)
  • It adds to the language for Sparwood LOU – requirement to post for Volunteers eight (8) weeks prior to each Stat Holiday; again, this does not go as far as the Union requested.
  • It provides .75% increase to the Defined Contribution Pension (from 5% to 5.75%)
  • Wage offer is increased to 4% (previously 2.75%) in the first year. 

Q.        What was the Union asking for? 

A.        We advised the Company that we would recommend the following: 

  • Sparwood LOU must be left unchanged with respect of Stat Holidays.
  • Subcontracting must be 15 days notice (not only for branches that screw up or are “offside”)
  • Three Year Deal
  • 4% in each year.
  • .75% into the Defined Contribution Plan (Parity with Alberta) 

Q.        Why is this a four year deal? 

A.        Ask Finning – it’s their proposal. This is what they have told us: they are seeking longer term for stability and predictability of their costs and planning of labour supply. We pushed for a three year deal. They said that they would only do a three year deal if the Committee would recommend, based on wages at 3.75%, 3%, 3%. At the end of the day, we refused to recommend it. 

Q.        Why are we voting this offer then? 

A.        Mediator Debbie Cameron pushed on both sides (Union and Company) during two days of mediation this week. At the end of the day on Thursday, she said there was nothing further from Finning. The offer was put to us for a vote, and the Committee decided that if our members wanted to stay on Picket Lines, they should have a say in that. To put it bluntly, if the membership votes no then they are telling us they are willing to stay out on strike longer. 

Q.        Are there more meetings scheduled? How long can this go on? 

A.        No more meetings are scheduled. There is no indication of more meetings from the Company. They have been clear on their position: “this is our best offer – there is nothing more.” With respect to how long this can go, we have no way to gauge that. 

Q.        What is the voting process? When will we know the result of vote? 

A.        Voting will take place as outlined on the Voting Schedule posted online. All votes will be conducted by your Bargaining Committee Reps at the times shown. Contact the office in Surrey if you cannot make it to one of the Branches. The Balloting will take place on the Picket Lines outside of Finning locations. Ballots will be counted Friday July 15th

Q.        What percentage of votes are needed to decide on this offer? 

A.        Acceptance or rejection of the offer will be based upon a simple majority of those voting. (ie: 50% plus one vote carries the day.) 

Q.        What about Picketing? 

A.        We need our members to continue on the picket lines throughout the weekend and next week. Members who are unhappy with the offer can demonstrate that sentiment by showing up and reinforcing the picket lines.

 Stay Rock Solid!

Al Cyr                                                             Stan Pickthall                                          
acyr@iam250.org                                         spickthall@iam250.org

 

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Machinists Union to Vote on Finning Offer

Saturday July 9, 2011
For Immediate Release 

Vancouver, BC – On June 22nd, members of IAMAW Local Lodge 692 struck Finning (Canada) Ltd. at 25 locations across British Columbia. This came after an 89% Strike vote by their 700 Union members. 

The parties met in mediation earlier this week for two days, with Labour Relations Board Mediator Debbie Cameron. On Thursday July 7th the mediation ended with a memorandum for the employees to vote on. The Union is not satisfied with the Company’s proposal, but has agreed to have their members vote on the revised offer. 

“Our members have an opportunity to vote on returning to work or staying on the picket lines, but either way nobody is happy with this contract.” Stated Directing Business Representative Stan Pickthall, adding: “The Union Committee will not be recommending this proposal from Finning. The offer makes some moves forward by the Company, but it simply does not go far enough.” 

Major issues in the dispute are: subcontracting, statutory holidays on modified shifts (an issue in the mining sector), wages, and duration of agreement. 

The Company offer is for a four year agreement with wage increases at 4%, 3%, 3%, and 4%. The Union membership in 2009 ratified a two year deal with no wage increases over the term. 

Said Pickthall: “The Union’s Bargaining Committee has told the Company what they needed to do in order to get a recommendation. This is not just about wages, but our members are looking for a catch-up after they agreed to zero percent when the Company was in trouble two years ago. Finning recently reported record profits for Q1 of 2011.” 

“On the language issues,” he added: “The Company knows what the problems are in the areas of subcontracting and modified shifts.” 

Voting on the Finning Proposal takes place over the next week.  

-30- 

For further information: 

Stan Pickthall – IAMAW District Lodge 250 Directing Business Representative
604-513-3883/604-992-9145 spickthall@iam250.org

Alain Cyr – IAMAW District Lodge 250 Business Representative
604-513-3883/604-309-0443 acyr@iam250.org

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