On March 15, 2023, Viterra announced that the annual bonus paid to their employees would be paid to everyone except Local 1 and 2 members. Their excuse? The union wouldn’t agree to the company’s pay system.
Let’s not kid ourselves. This move was intended to influence members to back down at the bargaining table.
The members of Locals 1 and 2 were not going to be pushed off their goal of making some significant improvements to their collective agreement. In fact, the STIP issue became a rallying point to have members speak up, show their solidarity and demand the STIP be paid.
Over 70 percent of Local 1 and 2 members signed a petition demanding the STIP be paid and stating they wouldn’t let the company use the STIP against them. The members shared personal stories of how the company’s actions were harming them and the jobs they do. They spoke out and told their managers they deserved their STIP, and they refused to go above and beyond if the company didn’t value their work. The Locals also filed an unfair labour practice challenging the company’s decision as it took place during negotiations.
Nearly three months after their March announcement, last week Viterra announced that they would release the STIP and pay it to all eligible members.
This victory for Local 1 and 2 members is no small feat and is the result of actions taken by members to demand what was owed to them.
“While the dollar value of the STIP is well into the seven figures, the true significance lies in the additional value to members as they stood shoulder to shoulder to fight for what was theirs and what is right,” said GSU general secretary and Local 1 and 2 bargaining committee spokesperson Steve Torgerson.
“When someone asks you why you need a union, or what the benefits of belonging to a union are, use this story as an example,” Torgerson continued. “Members did everything they could, from a legal challenge to not going above and beyond, but what ultimately made the difference was that the vast majority of members acted together and supported each other.”