Mill workers protest use of contractors

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Frustrated that their members are home and out of work, unionized employees at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper held a protest at the mill’s gates early Tuesday morning.

More than 50 unionized Corner Brook Pulp and Paper employees took part in a quiet demonstration at the mill gates during the morning shift change Tuesday.

The protest was meant to draw attention to the number of contractors the paper company is employing after laying off several dozen unionized workers recently.

While most of the workers gathered at the main mill gate, a handful maintained a presence at the mill’s east gate, which is frequently used by contractors.

There was no disruption in the flow of traffic into the paper mill property as many contractors arrived to do scheduled maintenance in the steam plant area of the operation Tuesday.

The protest had been planned for some time and had nothing to do with the most recent controversy over pension plans. The demonstration, which started at 6:30 a.m. was over before the end of the shift change at 8 a.m.

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  • Vicki stokes
    May 21, 2012 - 12:53

    I tried to not comment because this Dave dude and this "bus-nine" man are just way too ignorant and derogatory to say the least. So I would like to point out a couple of serious flaws in your envy tainted argument. #1. You must have a MINIMUM 3 YEAR TECH DIPLOMA in order to apply to the labour pool alone!!!!! Where did you get your information? Or is it just your opinion? I spent 40 grand and 8 years in school to acquire 2 Bachelors Degrees and 2 diplomas..... I don't really appreciate the likes of you ice cream store "bus-nines" man calling ME uneducated and stupid. #2 CBPPL is a private company. It is not publicly traded therefore the only shareholders you are referring to is the sole owner- Joe Kruger. #3 the fibre available and quality thereof, for the production of his newsprint is comparable to no other........ In fact his customers in the USA Demand only newsprint from the CB Mill and don't want the product from anywhere else. That's why he doesn't pack up shop and make paper in Ethiopia as you suggest. (awesome business knowledge btw) These kinds of facts are kind of important if you want to prove your point has ANY validity. The people of this city are unbelievable. I mean I have heard it all my life about the redneck ways of this so called city, I just never realised just how big of a ghetto this place is....... Should be a lovely place once the Paper machines fall to peices due to lack of unknowledgeable if ANY maintenance. As far as unskilled ( pretty sure you'll stay quiet on the education issue now, I can forward you my credentials if you like) but as far as unskilled? I'd like to see either one of you do this chicks job any better....... I'd like to have a good laugh watching you do it at all....... Pathetic little men.../. Notice I didn't hide behind a pseudonym? That's because I state facts not spew fodder like has been done. Just understand that the workers at this mill have lots of options....... The city's mean population? I'd say you're going to have to figure out your tax increases all on your own. Your options are fairly limited...... Personally though I could care less. I'd like to see the whole city sink into the Bay once/if that mill shuts. Actually I'd like I to see it Sink even if she survives......... make no wonder all the townies think you're all a bunch of weirdos

  • response to jeff from a business man
    May 16, 2012 - 22:51

    RESPONSE TO JEFF: I too think Kruger should fire all of its unionized workers and hire a non-unionized workforce that is willing to work for the wage offered. I think the company has a duty to its shareholders to hire the cheapest workforce possible to do the job properly. I would fully support the company bringing in foreigners who will work for less. As a business owner, I will tell you that it really does not matter WHO actually does the work, as long as the work gets done. As a business owner, I have the sole ability to dictate what the workers will make. Not only do I want to dictate wages, I do NOT want to negotiate with unskilled workers, EVER. If they don't like it, then they can leave. If they form a union and try to make me pay more, then I will leave and they can seek employment elsewhere while I will continue to make money with different workers. I have done this at least 20 times in the last few years, and make lots of money helping companies use the law to their advantage to find cheaper workers. Again, it really does not matter WHO actually does the work, as long as the work gets done. As for what you think these men "deserve", I will say that unless their jobs requires specialized education and training, the men are not worth more than minimum wage, and frankly the minimum wage is too much for an unskilled uneducated worker. If we are talking about engineers, accountants, lawyers, IT professionals and other skilled and educated workers, then I say they should make a high salary. However, if they are merely unskilled uneducated workers, then they should not get anything more than minimum wage, ever. I cannot speak for Kruger, but I operate on the premise that a person who is just an unskilled uneducated labourer is only worth minimum wage and not a penny more. Furthermore, I believe that the work of an unskilled uneducated worker should be outsourced because companies can then make more money with cheaper workers and pay more taxes. As for using and abusing employees, I don't believe contract work is abusing workers. I will share with you that in one of my companies that HAD over 2000 workers nationwide, there is not one fulltime employee. I only hire temporary/contract workers for 6 month contracts and I never renew a contract (unless it is family or a friend). The workers do dead end menial work that any idiot off the street can do, so as an employer, I get nothing for keeping long term employees yet am required to give the notice and vacation time if I keep them past 1 year. So, the minimize my liabilities, I only hire short term workers and hire a new set of people every few months. It allows me to keep wages down, and lets me in total control of who my employees are. If I want someone gone, I just call temp agency and they are gone. None of the employees are directly employed by me, so I own them nothing but their hourly wage. It give me the maximum amount of flexibility. These unskilled uneducated workers are just tools to be used and disposed on when a better cheaper model becomes available. Just plug and play. I used to have the 2000 workers in Canada, but i got fed up with unions trying to force me to give full time jobs, health benefits and pensions. I have no interest in paying for health benefits or pensions for my workers....I only care about them during the hours they work...after than, they are on their own. After years of attempted union organizing, I got fed and moved to right to work states. I now pay $7/hour in the USA, I still charge my client's the same and I have more contracts. The move to the USA worked for me because I make more money, and worked for my clients because I do more work for them on a daily basis. If the mill were to close, it would not effect me negatively...infact, I think my investment portfolio would achieve a gain with the closure of this mill. Yes, for an economy to succeed, people have to spend money; however, there is nothing says that Canada cannot survive without the spending from cornerbrook.. frankly, if the mill closes, I doubt there will be any impact on the Canadian economy as a whole......most people would not care. Companies close down everyday....just a part of economic activity....actually, maybe the closure of the mill will lead to positive economic growth since the closure of the mill might result in an increase in Kruger share prices which means that the shareholders would have more money to spend. I understand the cyclical formula of "Better paying jobs = more money spent = more jobs created = better paying jobs" but I must point out that none of that has to happen in Cornerbrook....it can happen everywhere else. So those who disagree with me can think whatever they like, but I offer my input as someone who will never create a job in NL. But before you condemn me, ask yourself, why would a company CHOOSE to come to NL? what does the workforce have to offer over Toronto, St. John's, or Calgary? I don't have an answer, and I frankly dont care to find out. I am perfectly fine opening offices and factories in the USA, Mexico and the BRIC countries. I frankly gain nothing from operating in Canada....in fact, I would likely make less money if I had offices in Canada. I am a voter, a citizens and a taxpayer, and a proud NL born Canadian, but I am exceptionally happy to say that my economic success has nothing to do with NL or its workers.

    • Jeff
      May 17, 2012 - 07:41

      I am delighted to see my comments generated such a lengthy retort. However, it is pointless for me to respond the way I want because I plainly see that I would be dealing with someone who believes - without doubt - they are right and no one else's opinion matters. That's fine. I have better ways to spend my time then thumping my head against a wall. I have formulated an opinion on you and how you operate... but I am polite and have been taught to keep certain opinions to myself, especially when they are not very nice. I have dealt with and worked for "business" people like you in the past and I am happy to say I survived them all while they failed and their "companies" went under and I am a better person for it... so thank you. I would like to know what "company" you "operate" however so I can ensure I am not directly or knowingly supporting you. Thanks again for supporting the economic growth of your home province and country... oh wait... you don't. Oh and before I forget (and this is completely a dig... so be forewarned...) I think you need geography lessons. St.John's IS in Newfoundland... so... yeah... just saying.

  • John Hickey
    May 16, 2012 - 07:18

    Nice to see such a heated debate. It's unfortunate that some commenters can't make their point without a few crybabies jumping all over them. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Businessman's comments. I loathe labor unions and everything they stand for. They only help themselves usually, except the odd time they actually do fight for a member. I think that Kruger should can all their unionized employees and hire a non-unionized workforce that is willing to work for the wage they can afford to pay them. As for all the "benefits", what major employer hires full time anymore or pays out small fortunes to secure a worker's future. It's just ecomnomically unfeasable. At least if Kruger were to do that, they'd be able to keep the mill up and running and all those who depend on the spinoff business would not be greatly affected. The alternative is a complete shutdown of the mill and moving to more lucrative and less costly environs.. A mill in mothballs serves no-one and not only destroys a community, but utility companies will lose revenue and will have to make up for it's losses by charging you, the customer, more for your hydro.. Lose, lose situation...

    • Jeff
      May 16, 2012 - 09:35

      "I think that Kruger should can all their unionized employees and hire a non-unionized workforce that is willing to work for the wage they can afford to pay them" - John Hickey Really? REALLY? So basically what you are saying is that a corporation like Kruger should hire people willing to go homeless, starve, have no vehicle, have no means of support? We all know that what a corporation thinks is a fair wage and what is ACTUALLY a fair wage is miles apart. Have you ever worked in the mill? Have you ever worked in any form of mechanized industry? I have. Those men earn every friggin' nickel and deserve more. They are CONSTANTLY in hazard of being injured or even killed and you are suggesting they be paid less and receive no benefits? So basically the corporation should take no responsibility for its workforce whatsoever? Just use and abuse its employees? Well under your model the employees would be slaves, so I guess a corporation could get away with that. The impact of losing the mill would be devastating, but the impact of losing the jobs is just as bad if not worse because people are not BUYING ANYTHING to stimulate the economy. While the spinoff jobs that the mill creates are one thing, in order for the economy to truly boom there must be people out there making purchases. Everything from socks to houses is what drives the economy. Better paying jobs = more money spent = more jobs created = better paying jobs. How hard is that simple cyclical formula to understand? Though in Newfoundland we still live by the Merchant rule of the 17 and 1800's so its no wonder this town / province can't get with the times.

    • response from a business man
      May 16, 2012 - 22:17

      JOHN - thank you for agreeing with me. I just call it like it is and make decisions as I see fit. I hate unions and will never create a job in an jurisdiction where a union be formed. That means I will never create a job in NL. The best part of this is that I don't have to create a job in any specific area. With technology, I can operate in any country in the world. So as a result, the NL workforce has to justify to business owners why NL is the place for investment. From what I see, NL is disadvantaged because of energy rates, high minimum wages and an entitled workforce. So when I chose to create jobs, NL is never selected as the place. Similarly, when I help clients chose a location, there is no reason why NL would be chosen. So those who are pro-union can oppose me all they want but I will continue to make money without a NL workforce.

  • Kenny
    May 16, 2012 - 02:17

    There's a reason why the Occupy movement has began. There was a reason why unions began. It was all about greed by the rich with no regard for the lives of those who did all the work and made very little in return. Corporations have done all they can to eliminate unions in an effort to make more money. The corporate media has done all they can to make the Occupy movement look bad and most brainwashed media enthusiasts have believed them. The unions are all about protecting the rights of workers. Recent gov'ts have allowed corporations to do what they want when they want. It's time for all of us to unite.Our human rights and our democracy are being eroded and unless more of us make a stand things will only get worse. It doesn't have to be the Occupy movement but one by one our voices will be heard and hopefully a "ripple" effect will follow.

    • a business man
      May 16, 2012 - 22:59

      you say there is a reason why occupy movement has began and why unions began...well I counter that unions are the reason why offshoring and outsourcing began. Further, I'll tell you that there is a reason why companies invest millions to create technology that will replace workers. I am one of those people.....I spent over 1 million dollars to invent a computer system, and I eliminated hundreds of jobs and save over 2 million in wages annually. Instead of paying workers, I put the money in my pocket. And with the technology, the work still gets done. If you ask me, I say the worker is pathetic for only have skills that can be replicated by a machine....they should have gone to school to make themselves more valuable. Unions can fight workers all they want....I deal with unions regularly. But if the unions push too far, then I will just close up and move to a right to work state. Not every job has to enable one to own a home or a car....not every jobs must provide health care benefits or a pension plan. personally, I specialize in creating jobs that are done by unskilled workers, because I can just plug and play workers as necessary. I cannot do this with my engineers, lawyers or other skilled and educated people. But the unskilled uneducated workers, well they are just disposable tools.

    • a business man
      May 16, 2012 - 23:00

      you say there is a reason why occupy movement has began and why unions began...well I counter that unions are the reason why offshoring and outsourcing began. Further, I'll tell you that there is a reason why companies invest millions to create technology that will replace workers. I am one of those people.....I spent over 1 million dollars to invent a computer system, and I eliminated hundreds of jobs and save over 2 million in wages annually. Instead of paying workers, I put the money in my pocket. And with the technology, the work still gets done. If you ask me, I say the worker is pathetic for only have skills that can be replicated by a machine....they should have gone to school to make themselves more valuable. Unions can fight workers all they want....I deal with unions regularly. But if the unions push too far, then I will just close up and move to a right to work state. Not every job has to enable one to own a home or a car....not every jobs must provide health care benefits or a pension plan. personally, I specialize in creating jobs that are done by unskilled workers, because I can just plug and play workers as necessary. I cannot do this with my engineers, lawyers or other skilled and educated people. But the unskilled uneducated workers, well they are just disposable tools.

  • Aaron Gillam
    May 15, 2012 - 22:27

    The business man with better things to do is having a hard time keeping his nose out of the mill,s business. With his lack of compassion for laid off workers he reminds me of the male version of " Debbie Downer". Aaron

    • Vicki stokes
      May 21, 2012 - 13:02

      Hi Brother Gillam! How's the provinces most qualified and experienced and proven best welder doing? Don't mind these no minds Aaron. Name me one business in CB that sounds anything like the one he describes? Hes full of What settles in the primary effluent...... I can see by the magnificent (sarcasm) work done by the 19 year old contractor whos here for the first time, that people like Aaron are so easily replaced! Its like taking a pilot out of the airplane and pay the stewardess to fly it. Hopefully Captain Gillam has found a more secure plane to Fly....... Because the stewardesses are out there lined up

  • Rod Lyver
    May 15, 2012 - 21:34

    Nanny Goat... Free porn in the Star? I didn't see it!!!!!

    • Brad
      May 16, 2012 - 06:53

      I see it Rod....It's just to the right......the "Our Pleasure" Ad.

    • Jeff
      May 16, 2012 - 09:04

      Actually Rod, while Nanny Goats comment is completely irrelevant to the topic I actually saw that ad yesterday morning myself. Though it wasn't pornographic by any means, it featured a man and a woman in bed laughing. It could have been for a vacation package or something... I don't recall.

  • paul
    May 15, 2012 - 18:30

    I too had to go away for work but that is okay. the union in the mill has been a good thing becaue if it wasn't there you wouldn't have any protesters. Nobody would be there to protest. I see familiar faces in the photos and know what they are talking about.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    May 15, 2012 - 14:51

    Once upon a time .......there was an event called the Labor Day Parade when you could stand up on the side of West Street and watch hundreds of mill employees both working and retired proudly walking side by side around the downtown streets of Corner Brook. Now we have the spectacle of retired and former mill union employees driving through the gates of the mill eliminating jobs of fellow union employees. My how times have changed? I don't know if ....... they lived happily ever after will ever apply to this newest tale!

  • joe
    May 15, 2012 - 11:39

    I dont wish any person to lose their job but i aint going to cry for anybody else. Nobody cried for me when i had to go away to find a job nor did i expect it. Its life and thats the way it goes.

  • Fred Fudge
    May 15, 2012 - 10:07

    C'mon guys this fellow might be a " busnines man " but he is not a business man, some guy home waiting for his pokey check , bored out of his mind trying to piss off people . I ask my Dad a very long ago why he was a union leader , he said, if we didn't have unions they take the last scrap of your table to make one more dollar profit. " A Busnines Man" must be the offspring of the "they" my Dad was talking about.

  • pensioner's wife
    May 15, 2012 - 08:48

    To "A BusinessMan"...your views may be vaild and you are certainly entitled to your opinion BUT there is certainly no need to be so nasty and inflammatory when expressing them. Many are dependent on the continuing operation of this mill, not just those currently employed. There will be far- reaching effects on people who have been connected to the mill in one way or another. These people are worried. Your comment was mean spirited. SHAME ON YOU!!!

  • a busnines man
    May 15, 2012 - 08:24

    The company has the right to hire whomever they want. The company has a duty to shareholders to operate as efficiently as possible. Personally, I have made money, lots of money, by advising companies to cut their full time workforce and hire contractors on an as needed basis. Frankly, I would love to see this mill close so I don't have to hear about these protests. The reality it that only 50 people care enough to protest, so who actually cares? I sure as hell don't. There are more important things to think about like the NHL/NBA playoffs, the stock market, my left sock, and so on....

    • A Community Woman
      May 15, 2012 - 08:44

      I would like to respond to A BUSNINES MAN (I'm hoping this successful business man intentionaly misspelled Business!!!), You were right to say that a company has the right to hire whomever they want but what you fail to see is that unionized workers have the right to protest a managment decision that fundamentally tries to break the union. So who cares ... I care ... this town should care ... alot of businesses thrive because of good unionized jobs at the mill. A successful business man would know that!

    • Miss
      May 15, 2012 - 09:26

      Some the workers at the mill that have been recently let go have been working at CBPP for most of their lives. These people have been dedicated employees. They have families to provide for and bills to pay. They have been offering their services to the business for many years and because of this, the company HAS made a lot of money. Many of these workers have been so dedicated to their jobs at the mill because they have been thinking about their future, and that's a good thing. They were told their jobs were not needed yet, there are contract workers coming in to do them. Some to these contract workers are retired. Some of them are retired mill workers! They are collecting a pension. Some of them have jobs outside of Newfoundland and they pick up a few jobs with these contractors while they are home. When assembly line work first became popular nearly 100 years ago, many workers were fired when their hair began to turn grey. Unions were created to protect people's jobs; their lives. It can not be just about the money. It's about people's lives. It's about working and making an honest living. If you are thinking always about dollar bills, "the stock market, sports..." then you sir, have no soul. There are more then 50 people that care about this issue. I am 51.

    • A business man indeed
      May 15, 2012 - 09:38

      With your reasoning skills you most likely lost more than you earned.

    • Nanny Goat
      May 15, 2012 - 09:59

      @ Western Star..... Do you know there is a photo of a half naked man on top of a half naked woman in one of your ads on the right hand side panel?

    • Jeff
      May 16, 2012 - 09:16

      First, its BUSINESS not BUSNINES. "Bus-Nines" maybe? Second, I have to agree that the company does have a responsibility to its shareholders to operate as efficiently as possible. However, it's strategy and tactics in dealing with its permanent workforce leaves something to be desired. I doubt you made any money by advising people the way you claim to have... but then again you do appear pretty callous so anything is possible despite your obvious lack of spelling ability. You can't be tied to this town in any way I assume or else you would know that the shut of this mill would doom Corner Brook because there is no other profitable, sustainable industry in this town. Oh sure, we have tourism but really that won't last forever either. For as many people like you who don't care, there are two or three that do care. So unless you have something positive to offer, shut the hell up. Thinking about the "more important" things is exactly what responsible people are doing. To suggest that the NHL / NBA is more important just shows how irresponsible some people have become. Here's a tip... professional sports is all rigged... chew on that for a while.

    • responses from a business man
      May 16, 2012 - 19:52

      RESPONSE TO A Community Woman: yeah, i understand that workers have a right to protest a management decision, but then management has the right to move the company. I have moved companies to right to work states specifically to avoid dealing with unions, and I will never invest another dollar in Canada because I simply do not want to deal with unions. I want to independently determine what wages I pay, and hire and fire whomever I please. If the laws of any country obstruct my ability to do that, they I will not invest there. I own my money, I choose where to create jobs. ******************************RESPONSE TO MISS: hate to say it miss, but for me as an employer, investor and business man, it is all about the money. Further, I applaud the retired mill workers who are collecting a pension and working as contractors. They are making the decision that is best for them. I understand that workers want to make an honest living, but business owners and shareholders demand the most amount of profitable. Even if operating in Canada is very profitable, any sensible business man or shareholder would support a move to India or China in order to make even more money. As a business man, I have made that decision many time, and as a JD/MBA, I have helped many many companies move their offices out of Canada to cheaper areas. In short, it is just about the money, and the unskilled workers are just tools to be used to make the money. If you are educated and bring specialized skills and knowledge to the company, then you are a valuable part. However, if you are just a unskilled uneducated worker, you are a tool to be disposed of when a cheaper better tool becomes available. ***********************************RESPONSE TO JEFF: the NHL/NBA is far more important to many Canadians than Cornerbrook ever will be. It ain't personal, just reality. Most probably don't know where cornerbrook is nor would take the time to even look it up. My question of the day is why do we even need to have a pulp and paper plant in Canada? Can we not get the stuff from elsewhere? Can't the chineese do it cheaper? or the indians? as a business man, I can say for a fact that I would happily accept cheaper product that is made in a foreign country. Maybe the company should just move and pass some of the operating savings to the customers. I am sure the customers would appreciate that.