Labrador City steelworkers union reaches tentative agreement with IOC

The United Steelworkers Union in Labrador City has confirmed that a tentative agreement has been made with the Iron Ore Company of Canada following over two weeks on the picket line.

Workers expected to vote on deal within next 48 hours

Striking workers stand on the picket line in Labrador City. (Alyson Samson/CBC News)

The United Steelworkers Union in Labrador City and the Iron Ore Company of Canada have confirmed that a tentative agreement has been made, following nearly three weeks on the picket line.

USW and the IOC went back to the negotiating table on Friday in Sept-Îles, QC, where workers had also voted in favour of a strike.

In a statement issued Saturday, IOC said the tentative agreement was with workers at both operations, and the company believes the deal is "fair and equitable for all parties." 

Labrador West MHA Graham Letto said the mood on the picket line in Labrador City was buoyant.

"The people that I've talked to have certainly been feeling very optimistic, they're feeling very relieved, that we've got through this fight," he said.

"It's not a done deal yet ... but what I'm hearing from the people I've talked to,  they feel the negotiating committee has done a good job for them, and they look with anticipation to the deal that has been reached today."

Striking for weeks

IOC workers walked out March 27 after more than 90 per cent voted in favour of striking, saying the latest IOC offer would implement a two-tier pension, increase the retirement age and make unwanted changes to sick leave. 

Many people in the community had feared how a long strike would impact workers and local businesses that rely on their patronage.

Labrador West MHA Graham Letto said workers on the picket line Saturday are pleased with the tentative agreement. (Gary Locke/CBC)

News that a deal may be close comes as a relief, said Letto.

"A long strike would be a significant blow to the community, not only to the workers but to the community as a whole." 

"History has shown that if [strikes] aren't resolved in the first two or three weeks it could turn into a long drawn out affair, so the fact that we've reached a tentative agreement so early in the strike is certainly very positive news."

USW will hold a membership meeting on April 16 to go over the latest offer. A vote on the offer will be held the next day on April 17.