Unifor union reaches tentative agreement with Resolute Forest Products

The Northern Pulp mill in Abercrombie Point, N.S., is viewed from Pictou, N.S., Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. The Nova Scotia government has scheduled a series of open houses to help those facing job losses because of the pending closure of a kraft pulp mill near Pictou. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

The Quebec Unifor branch announced Sunday a tentative agreement has been reached with Resolute Forest Products, the company that will serve as the basis for paper industry negotiations in other parts of the country. 

The agreement's terms were not disclosed. The proposal will be submitted to Resolu workers for approval in the coming week, and the result will be known on May 20.

"In the current context of labour shortage and galloping inflation, we had to ensure competitive and attractive working conditions. That was our main challenge," said Renaud Gagné, Unifor's Quebec director, in a press release. "We are confident that we have reached the best possible agreement under the circumstances."

Resolu said the framework agreement affects seven of its pulp and paper mills in Canada, including facilities in Dolbeau, Kenogami, St. Félicien, Gatineau, Amos and Baie-Comeau.

"We believe that this agreement reflects the value that Resolu places on their contribution to the Company's success, as well as the spirit of cooperation that characterizes the relationship between the two parties," said Rémi G. Lalonde, president and CEO of Resolu.

MODEL CONTRACT

Unifor says the paper industry's model contract involves negotiating monetary elements such as wages, benefits and pensions. Once the model is negotiated, it will serve as the basis for negotiations with all other employers in the forest industry.

In March, Unifor selected Resolute Forest Products to negotiate the model contract for use in talks in the Eastern Canadian paper industry, which covers some 15,000 members.

"Resolu was chosen because the company has several business lines, such as pulp, newsprint and supercalendered paper," said Gagné. "Also, the rule is that the designated company must be present in at least two provinces.

Traditionally, the contract negotiated with the target company is then used as a model in other industries in Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. 

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on May 15, 2022.