Members Approve Company’s Final Offer, Paving the Way for Collective Agreement Changes with Viterra
JANUARY 19, 2024, REGINA, SK–This morning, elected officers tallied the results of the recent ratification vote on the Jan. 4, 2024 final offer of Viterra Canada. The members of Grain and General Services Union (GSU) Local 1 (Viterra Country Operations and Maintenance) and Local 2 (Viterra Regina Head Office) have given their thumbs up, voting in favour of accepting the final offer from their employer.
The result does not show overwhelming support for the final offer.
“Members of Local 1 and 2 have been living under the company’s so-called pay-for-performance system for 15 years now,” said Steve Torgerson, bargaining spokesperson and GSU general secretary. “While the changes in the final offer achieve part of what members were looking to gain, it doesn’t go far enough. Members will continue to press the company during the term of the new agreement to address their concerns.”
As a result of this approval, the bargaining process will now move into the next phase, where GSU and Viterra will work together to incorporate the agreed-upon changes into the new collective agreement.
“This offer was accepted by the majority of members of both Locals, but members still have their sights set on more improvements next time,” said Torgerson. “It is important to point out that there are improvements gained in this deal. Improvements we have been working on for years. Improvements that will benefit members today and in years to come.”
“As a democratic organization driven by members, I am proud of the members of Local 1 and 2 for their dedication to the process, by holding each other to account and striving for better working conditions for everyone,” Torgerson said. “While the members of these Locals don’t all believe in the same things, they have committed to stick together and continue to do the hard work it takes to build a strong and representative union.”
For information, contact:
Steve Torgerson, General Secretary
Grain and General Services Union (ILWU · Canada)
Work phone 306.522.6686, ext. 226
Cell phone 306-529-5925
GSU Local 1, 2 (Viterra) officers suspend Strike Action pending ratification vote
JANUARY 5, 2024, REGINA, SK – Grain and General Services Union Local 1 (Country Operations and Maintenance) and Local 2 (Regina Head Office) representing Viterra Canada Inc. employees have decided to suspend the previously-announced strike action scheduled for this afternoon at 2:00 p.m., pending the results of a ratification vote by its members.
After careful consideration, union officers have determined that it is in the best interest of the members to allow them the opportunity to vote on the company’s Jan. 4, 2024 final offer.
Union officials acknowledge the frustration among members and have decided that, during the period leading up to the ratification vote, employees will not be on legal strike but will engage in a “work to rule” approach. This means members will strictly adhere to work-related rules and procedures without undertaking any additional work beyond their contractual and legal obligations.
“Our officers understand the concerns and frustrations of our members. The decision to suspend the strike action is a strategic move to give our members the chance to participate in the democratic process and have their voices heard through a ratification vote,” said GSU general secretary Steve Torgerson.
The ratification votes will begin in the coming days and the ballots will be counted on January 19, 2024. The union remains committed to advocating for the best interests of its members and achieving a fair and satisfactory resolution through the negotiation process.
Information will be released as it becomes available.
MEDIA RELEASE – Viterra presents another Final Offer to GSU Locals 1 and 2
JANUARY 4, 2024, REGINA, SK – Following extensive negotiations that continued into the evening, Viterra presented a new Final Offer to the GSU bargaining committee. The first Final Offer in these negotiations was rejected by our members in November 2023.
The elected officers of Locals 1 and 2 will meet January 5, 2024, starting at 9:30 a.m. to review the offer.
MEDIA RELEASE – GSU Locals 1 & 2 Serve 72-Hour Strike Notice Amidst Vital Negotiations with Viterra
JANUARY 2, 2024, REGINA, SK – After more than a year of tireless negotiations seeking fair wages, improved work-life balance, and workplace respect, members of GSU Local 1 (Viterra Country Operations and Maintenance) and Local 2 (Viterra Regina Head Office) are taking a stand to secure a fair collective agreement. Today GSU issued 72-hour strike notice to Viterra Canada Inc. and the Federal Minister of Labour, Hon. Seamus O’Regan of their intent to strike as early as January 5, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. local time.
Following the rejection of Viterra’s final offer on December 15, 2023, GSU’s bargaining committee engaged in efforts to resume negotiations. An agreement on resuming negotiations has been reached, and talks are scheduled to take place on January 3 and 4, 2024, in Regina.
“This strike notice provides for time for the company to come back to negotiations and address members concerns,” said GSU General Secretary Steve Torgerson, “But members are not willing to give the company much longer. It is time for them to take bargaining seriously.”
GSU is deeply rooted in its commitment that all workers deserve fair and just rewards for their labour. Members are unwilling to wait any longer for a resolution that addresses their legitimate concerns. “This strike notice given by GSU members underscores the urgency and gravity of the situation,” Torgerson said. “If significant progress is not made during the upcoming negotiations on January 3 and 4, GSU members are prepared to initiate strike action to secure a fair collective agreement.”
MEDIA RELEASE – GSU members reject Viterra’s Final Offer
DECEMBER 15, 2023, REGINA, SK – After more than a year of negotiations, the members of Grain and General Services Union (GSU) Local 1 (Viterra Country Operations and Maintenance) and Local 2 (Viterra Regina Head Office) in Saskatchewan have reached a critical juncture in their bargaining relationship with Viterra. Frustrated by the lack of progress and seeming disregard for their concerns, union members in both Locals have overwhelmingly voted to reject the company’s final offer. Ballots on the offer were counted in Regina on Dec. 15. This was preceded by a vote and resounding message of unity in Nov. 2023 when members expressed their dissatisfaction with the company’s actions and overwhelmingly voted to authorize strike action should it become necessary.
“The strong rejection vote across both Locals is no real surprise,” said GSU general secretary and bargaining spokesperson Steve Torgerson. “Members have been clear from the beginning that they need real wage increases written into their collective agreements. This final offer from Viterra does not provide that.”
The key issues at the heart of these negotiations include reliable wage increases, better work-family balance, health and safety and greater respect in the workplace. Despite the union’s repeated attempts to engage in meaningful dialogue, the company’s lack of movement or concern has left members disheartened and disappointed.
“With the Bunge acquisition of Viterra, I thought Viterra would come to the bargaining table prepared to reach a deal. I’m surprised these negotiations are still dragging on,” said Viterra employee and union bargaining committee member Kaylee Yanoshewski. “We’re asking for what is being seen in other recent contract settlements, and we want language in our collective agreement that clearly states what we will be earning.”
The rejection of the final offer comes right before the holiday season and near the end of a good harvest in parts of Western Canada.
“It is disheartening to see a company that boasts billions in profits and a large stake in Canadian grain handling fall short in valuing its most important asset – its employees,” Torgerson said. “For the past 70 years, GSU members have been the backbone to Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and now Viterra’s success. They have witnessed the shift from a company deeply invested in farmers and communities to Viterra, which seems more focused on profit and consolidation.”
“Our members are asking their employer to recognize that their commitment and contributions significantly contribute to Viterra’s profit margins, and that there is an important balance between profitability and the well-being of its workforce.”
The decision to authorize a strike was not taken lightly by the union members, who remain hopeful that the company will reevaluate its position and return to the bargaining table in good faith. The union emphasizes its commitment to finding a fair and equitable resolution that benefits both parties. It is also not lost on GSU members that any disruption in grain handling and shipping will have an affect on local producers.
“We work directly with Viterra’s customers and producers. We know what a strike or lock out might mean for them and we don’t want things to reach that point,” said Viterra employee and GSU bargaining committee member Dale Lysitza. “GSU members have been talking to the customers and producers they serve since bargaining began last year. They know what our issues are, what we are fighting for and what’s at stake for us. We value those relationships and are counting on their support and understanding if it comes to a point where we have to take a stand for what’s right and fair for our coworkers.”
As Local 1 and 2 prepares for a potential strike, the ball is now in Viterra’s court to address the concerns of its workforce and demonstrate a genuine commitment to its employees and customers.
“All Canadians have been struggling these past few years with rising prices on food and housing. Our members are not asking for high wage increases that are out of touch. We want what everyone wants: contract language that ensures employees know what they will be paid and not have to trust that a multinational agriculture company will take care of them,” said Torgerson. “All working people deserve their fair share in return for their labour, and that is always worth fighting for.”
For more information, contact:
Steve Torgerson, General Secretary
Grain and General Services Union (ILWU · Canada)
Phone 306.522.6686, ext. 226