News

USW Local 6166 would like to update the membership on what has transpired over the past few months regarding the Transition from a fully integrated plant at the Vale Manitoba Operations to a Mines/Mill operation.

USW 6166 Press Release re: Response to VALE AIP in Manitoba Division

I would like to update you on what has transpired over the last few days in regards to two bulletins released by Vale Corporate and the Manitoba Operations in regards to AIP.

USW 6166 Press Release re: Update on the Manitoba Division

On August 28, 2017, I received a call from Mark Scott, Vice-President, Manitoba Operations requesting a meeting between USW Local 6166 Executive and Vale Manitoba Operations Management Team. We met as an executive with Vale and received an update from Mark Scott on the state of affairs in the Manitoba Operations. We were informed that the new CEO of Vale undertook a 60 day review across the whole Company. In the presentations there was a number of possible scenarios presented for the Manitoba Operations. We were informed that Nickel prices are at an all-time low and it has stayed low for the longest period in the Nickel Industry history. We were also told that Manitoba Operations will have to stand on its own in all levels of Nickel prices. The current forecast is that Manitoba Operations will have a loss of 50 million dollars this year. The Operation has many challenges ahead to keep cost down and increase productivity in order to sustain the business in the years ahead.

USW 6166 Press Release re: Update on Birchtree Closure


Since the news release of the Birchtree closure, a number of our executive, full-time Union activists and your President have being meeting with Vale’s top and middle management personnel on a regular basis. We have made a request to all of our activists not to be a part of the rumour mill, but to talk to our members and direct them to the President, Vice-President, (Gord Medwid) and Conflict resolution coordinator, (Scott Clements) to get accurate information regarding the closure.

USW Local 6166 Press Release

Since our last update we have had a number of meetings concerning the Birchtree closure and the Refiner/Smelter closures with several groups.

We have had several meetings with Manitoba Operations Management team to discuss incentives that are currently in the CBA and to consider including additional incentives for the Birchtree closure. We are expecting to have more to report on in the near future. There is a tremendous effort going on and we are doing everything we can to reduce or eliminate any layoffs of our membership by the Birchtree closure on October 01, 2017.

USW 6166 Press Release re: Update on Birchtree Closure

On May 16, 2017, Vice-President Gord Medwid and I attended Birchtree to meet with members having any concerns. We also met with the Mine Manager to ensure that our members are treated with respect and dignity. We were not invited to any of the crew meetings in the Manitoba Division, nor did we know the times that they were taking place. I understand that some of our members were upset because there was no union representation at the meetings. I take full responsibility for this, if I knew the times of the meetings, I would have assigned people to represent us despite very few answers at this time and a lot of unanswered questions.

On May 15, 2017, United Steelworkers Local 6166 President Les Ellsworth and Vice President Gord Medwid were called to a meeting by Vale Manitoba Operations Vice President Mark Scott and other senior management. At that meeting, the USW representatives were informed by Mark Scott that Birch Tree Mine would be put on care and maintenance by Oct 1, 2017. Birch tree mine is one of three operating mines in the operation. The reasons that were given to put the Mine on Care and Maintenance were stated as low metal prices, declining ore grades and a number of production issues.