After receiving a financial settlement from Vale, a third worker fired during the 2009-2010 strike against the company has decided not to proceed with arbitration to win his job back.
The worker, Brian Miller, came to this decision in August, according to Brian Shell, the lawyer for the man's union, Steelworkers Local 6500.
After talks involving Miller, the union and Vale, the company offered him a financial settlement, Shell said. He said he isn't at liberty to say how much the settlement is worth.
Miller is currently working at a gold mine on the James Bay coast, and is happy with his job there, Shell said.
Nine workers were fired during the labour dispute, which lasted from July 2009 to July 2010.
One of them, John Landry, was not involved in the arbitration process because he took his pension before the strike ended.
Two other workers, Adam Cowie and Dan Labelle, decided this spring they didn't want to proceed with arbitration because they're happy with their current jobs, and don't want to go back to Vale.
Cowie and Labelle also received financial payouts from Vale, Shell said.
Vale spokesperson Angie Robson said she can confirm that “we have brought closure to all three of these matters.” However, due to confidentiality, “we will not be disclosing any details beyond that,” she said.
Another fired worker, Mike Courschene, won his job back July 24 through arbitration. He is expected to return to work after completing pre-employment medical tests.
It looks like arbitration hearings for the four remaining fired workers will stretch out throughout the fall and possibly longer, Shell said.
Ron Breault's case will continue before arbitrator Janice Johnston Oct. 2-3. Shell said there's a possibility this case will conclude after the October dates, but if it doesn't, it will resume Nov. 1-2.
The cases of Mike French, Jason Patterson and Patrick Veinot are being held together because before arbitrator Bill Kaplan they were all fired after the same incident in the community in January 2010.
French was convicted of assault after the incident.
Hearings for the three men will continue Oct. 15, Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 13. Shell said the earliest these hearings could conclude is December.
“It's taking a very long time, and everybody is very frustrated by the delays,” he said. “In the Patterson, French and Veinot matter, the union's case hasn't even begun. The company continues to put in its very lengthy evidence. There's been procedural wrangling, and evidentiary wrangling.”
It was a long road for the union just to win the right for the fired workers to undergo arbitration.
Under their collective agreement, Vale workers normally have the right to just cause arbitration if they're fired.
However, because the workers were on strike when they were fired, they weren't covered by the rules set out in the contract.
Steelworkers Local 6500 fought to have the workers reinstated before a new contract was signed, and when Vale refused, they brought the matter before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.
The labour relations board ruled Feb. 24 that the workers had the right to arbitration.