Vale tentative agreement includes retirement benefits for new hires

The union representing more than 2,400 striking workers at Vale has released some details of a tentative agreement members will be reviewing Tuesday.

Negotiators for Steelworkers Local 6500 say they are unanimously recommending members accept the five-year agreement. The contract includes retirement benefits for new hires, a key sticking point in the labour dispute.

"After two weeks of challenging negotiations, your bargaining committee believes we have achieved this objective," said a post on the union's website.

"This tentative agreement includes significant monetary improvements for existing members and preserves retiree health benefits for all future hires."

It also includes wage increases of 1.5 per cent in the first and last year of the deal, with one per cent increases in years 2-4. Members would also receive a $2,500 "recognition payment" to recognize members' "efforts last year during the pandemic and the acceptance of a status quo contract."

A signing bonus of $3,500 would be paid 30 days after the agreement is ratified.

Workers rejected the last contract offer from the company at the end of May, which was also recommended by the bargaining committee.

Workers were praised for taking a "principled" stand to protect the retirement benefits for future employees, and the bargaining committee said it "energized" them to strike a better agreement.

"Your bargaining committee is positive we could not have reached this settlement without your incredible support and the principled stand you took throughout this difficult process," the union said Tuesday.

"We believe this tentative agreement is worthy of your USW Local 6500 solidarity and values and we are unanimously recommending ratification."

The union is holding information sessions Tuesday on the new contract offer. Three meetings are scheduled – at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. All meetings will be held on Zoom, as well as at Steelworkers Hall.

Members who attend the meetings in person are being reminded masks are mandatory, and a maximum of 260 people can be in the hall, because of COVID-19 restrictions.