Workers vote against unionization

Greenhill mine employees opted not to join the United Steel Workers union following a vote.

Greenhill mine employees voted a resounding ‘No’ to joining the United Steel Workers (USW) union and have opted to remain independent of any union partnerships. Ballots were cast and collected between Aug. 20 and Sept. 18 and counted on Sept. 25, with scrutinizers from both Teck and the USW present.

Nic Milligan, Manager of Community and Aboriginal Affairs for Teck, said that the vote is a positive sign of employee trust in Teck.

“Greenhill has been non-union for nearly 25 years and in that time has remained a very positive work place – high level of productivity and safety and we think we have got a high level of trust and respect with our employees and this vote reaffirms that we have a positive work place with a high level of trust and respect,” he said in an interview with The Free Press.

While the USW President Alex Hanson is disappointed with the result, he said its part of a democratic operation.

“At the end of the day, it’s unfortunate but that’s the democratic process. A union vote is a democratic vote and they chose this time not to join the steel workers but that doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future and that we won’t keep trying because we think we are tied together, whether we like it or not,” said Hanson. “We’re workers, we’re coal miners in the Elk Valley, and that’s just the way it is.”

The vote saw a large turn out, with 498 of 507 eligible voters casting a ballot, which both Hanson and Milligan are impressed by.

“It was a 98 per cent voter turn out. I think it highlights how important this issue was for employees,” said Milligan.

“You look at federal and provincial and municipal elections, half of the people don’t even turn out, so at least we got a very accurate representation of what those workers up there believe and what they want to do, and that’s the democratic process,” said Hanson. “Win some, lose some, but we are not quitters, so Teck should still be on notice that we are not going to stop.”