May 19, 2017 Press Release

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.

I have personally done over a dozen interviews with the media including the press release that went out to the members via the USW Local 6166 website.

Since our press release, we have met with the Mayor of Thompson, Dennis Fenske, Deputy Mayor Kathy Valentino and Kelly Bindle, our Provincial MLA who at this point are seeking information and help from us to where we need to go. The City of Thompson has a number of initiatives that they are working on with the Provincial Government. The City of Thompson and USW Local 6166 representatives have a meeting set up with the Provincial Government on May 26, 2017 to update and discuss how the Government can provide assistance.

We have met with Vale Representatives this week to discuss the impact of the Birchtree closure and what we can do to mitigate any potential layoffs to our members. We are currently waiting for a response on a number of request we have made.
It is our intent to keep you updated as often as we can when we have new information that affects you. Please reach out to our activists with any concerns or questions you may have. We need to stay strong and united at this very difficult time.

Les Ellsworth