Seesaw at SeaStar
Politicians will promises anything to get your vote. So will some unions
SeaStar Solutions is back! Close to 300 employees working at the company’s plant in Richmond, BC, voted in early March to leave Unifor and rejoin CLAC Local 501.
The group had been represented by Local 501 and was making headway in achieving needed improvements when Unifor came in three years ago making all kinds of promises during a heated organizing campaign. The employees soon found out those promises were empty.
“After three years of being underrepresented by Unifor, we are excited to have CLAC represent us again at SeaStar,” says Roland Medina, a production worker and key organizer of the campaign to bring CLAC back.
The campaign was a brief one. Workers began contacting CLAC representatives in January after Unifor failed to address their concerns and ignored them. Their biggest concern was that part of the company benefits plan cost was being passed on to employees. Many were paying close to $130 per month out of their own pockets.
CLAC has managed its own benefits plan for over 30 years. With 26,000 participants and growing, the plan’s size enables it to achieve significant cost advantages for members compared to other union and company plans.
By the end of February, a solid majority of workers had signed up to switch unions. In a vote held on March 12, 80 percent of the employees voted in favour of Local 501.
“We’re pleased to be back representing the members at SeaStar,” says Don Mundy, CLAC representative. “We have a long history with these members going back to the late 1990s. We have a cost-effective benefits plan that will enable our newest members to put money back into their pockets. Along with addressing their benefits needs, we will have two representatives looking after their concerns and improving their work-life.”
SeaStar Solutions is one of the largest manufacturing plants in Richmond, employing over 350 production workers, machinists, engineers, and administrative personnel. The company specializes in the production of hydraulic and electronic power steering components for the personal watercraft industry. It also manufactures auxiliary heating components for transport trucks, buses, and the military.