SaskPower and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 2067, the company's largest union, have come to terms on a new tentative collective agreement.
The two-year deal, which must still be ratified by IBEW members, will expire at the end of 2011. The current agreement expired Dec. 31, 2009.
Contract details are not being released until the ratification vote has been taken on July 21.
“We are pleased to have come to terms on a new collective agreement with IBEW,” SaskPower president Robert Watson said.
“We worked hard on this one,” said IBEW business manager Neil Collins, in speaking with The Mercury on June 17, the day the agreement was announced.
The deal affects about 1,400 IBEW members, or about one-half of SaskPower's entire workforce.
“SaskPower has a long standing partnership with the union that has benefited the company and the province for many years. We look forward to working with IBEW members to ensure Saskatchewan residents continue to have access to reliable and affordable electricity,” Watson said.
Collins added that the bargaining committee concluded the memorandum of agreement feeling that it was fair and would meet the needs of the membership and therefore the bargaining committee, executive board and joint board are recommending acceptance of the tentative agreement.
“An agreement is difficult in the climate we have now, but we worked on the basis of having a positive relationship and got it done,” Collins said, adding that “considering the current market place for public sector employees, it's comparable to the rest of Western Canada.”
The negotiations that were on and off again for over 19 months included one initial offer that was rejected by over 90 per cent of the IBEW membership, Collins said. That was in January of this year.
The IBEW voter turnout for that contract offer was 75 per cent, so the rejection was pretty clear.
“There were some issues around the language that was in that first contract offer that the membership felt very uncomfortable with so what happened is SaskPower came back with a different bargaining team in April and we've managed to get it done,” Collins said.
Starting June 20, the executive was going to take the contract details to the rank and file for their input and to provide the details around the proposal. That process will take until June 29 followed by the vote in July.