Machinist Coal Haulers Strike Gold with New Contract

IAM Local 684 members at Sydney Car Railway (SCR) in Sydney, Nova Scotia recently ratified a five-year collective bargaining agreement that will boost their pay more than 10 percent in the first year.

The members consist of locomotive engineers, conductors and Maintenance of Way employees.

“After nearly 16 years in my role as a General Chairperson, I have never achieved a more rewarding settlement,” said District 140 General Chairperson Ken Russell.

All classifications received an increase of over $2.68 an hour in the first year. Wage improvements were also reached when members were upgraded to a higher classification. Wage increases amounted to 2.25 percent in year’s two, three, four and five, respectively.

“We have not seen raises like these since the days of DEVCO in the early 1980’s when coal mining was still a huge part of Cape Breton’s economy,” said Local 684 Shop Committee Chairperson Rick Wiseman.

“It was paramount that we achieved a large uplift in year one and built on those numbers in subsequent years,” said Russell. “This is a very senior workforce and young faces are slowly replacing the very senior 30-plus members. Over 10 percent in the first year will go great lengths to improving their pensions since for many this will be their last collective agreement.”

Current SCR operations consist of running coal imports which arrive at the international piers in Sydney Harbour by bulk carriers from the U.S. and South America. Coal is transported to the Victoria Junction storage facility and then delivered continuously to the Lingan Generating Station owned by Nova Scotia Power.