Profile extruder CPI Plastics Group Ltd. will win labor peace for 20 months through a settlement with the United Steelworkers of America.
CPI has agreed to pay the union C$675,000 (US$423,000) in installments through 2002. Under the agreement, the Ontario Labour Relations Board will not accept any application for union certification at CPI by USWA or other unions. OLRB ratified the agreement.
CPI President Ron Mitchell said the payment will lead to a fourth-quarter loss for the Mississauga, Ontario, firm. However, the payment is preferable to lengthy and costly hearings that have distracted CPI for the past few years. The hearings before OLRB were sparked by complaints from the union about unfair labor practices at CPI.
USWA spokesman Brad James said the ``vast majority'' of CPI's payment will be given to employees affected by a failed unionization drive. Eligible employees include union supporters who lost their jobs.
Toronto-based District 6 of the USWA held a union certification vote for CPI's four Mississauga plants in September 1999 but was unable to obtain a majority. After the vote, USWA lodged complaints against CPI before OLRB, including allegations of unfair firings of union supporters before the vote.
The settlement will allow CPI to focus on its businesses, Mitchell said in a telephone interview. ``The whole process was disruptive for employees and management and there seemed no easy resolution,'' he explained.
James said the settlement also will save the union time and money. Ontario has made it more difficult for unions to organize plants, according to James. The lengthy hearing process was a result of the changes. USWA hopes to hold a second unionization vote at CPI ``if the workers want to work with us,'' he added.
Mitchell said he is confident a second unionization vote would not get worker approval. Employee programs were strained for a few years when CPI went through rapid growth, but the company now has stronger, more effective programs for training, compensation and communication, he claimed.
CPI reported a 50 percent decrease in profit to C$894,000 (US$560,000) for its third quarter, ended Sept. 30. Sales dropped 8 percent to C$26.3 million (US$16.5 million). The company said sagging sales to industrial customers were a drag on improved results for the consumer-related aspects of its business. CPI was operating at only 55 percent of capacity in the quarter because of weak industrial sales and the launch of an 83,000-square-foot plant in April.