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NewsTrucking

FCL commits to helping fuel-haulers caught in the middle of strike

Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) announced yesterday that it is “committed to providing financial relief to all of the independent lease-operated truckers contracted by FCL whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by Unifor’s illegal blockades of the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) and other FCL sites.”

Scott Banda, FCL’s CEO, said, “We value the perseverance and support of all our independent trucking fleet partners and we recognize how badly Unifor’s illegal blockades hurt them. Unifor’s illegal actions have negatively affected their individual well-being and that of their families, so we’re doing all we can to help them.”

In the announcement, FCL noted that it will provide cash payments to help support independent lease operators who have lost income opportunities as a result of Unifor’s illegal blockades in the labor disruption. The payments are said to be approximately 75% of the drivers’ normal pay. The payment will be applied retroactively to lease operators in Regina, and also extended to lease operators in Carseland, Alberta, and Winnipeg. 

Both sides agree that the skilled fuel-haulers are caught in the middle. While mediation recently began again on Feb. 18, FCL is making the announcement and taking action, “in the hopes of easing some of the financial burdens on the operators.”

“It’s a tough situation for the truckers,” acknowledged Kevin Bittman, president of Unifor Local 594. At the same time, Bittman has been unapologetic about Unifor’s hard line in the pension dispute, as Nate Tabak previously reported.

“The last two months have been difficult for both small and large independent lease operators. The men and women who join the trucking industry, and particularly the fuel transportation sector, are vitally aware of our responsibilities to the public and the essential role we play in maintaining Canadians’ way of life,” said Heather Day, President of C.S. Day Transport and member of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association’s Board of Directors.

C.S. Day Transport is the largest fuel hauler among the group. The company lost more than C$500,000 in revenue in January alone.

“We just want to get all the guys back to work,” Day told FreightWaves in early February.

“We’re very appreciative that FCL and the CRC [Co-op Refinery Complex] recognize the hardships that we have endured during this labor disruption. The lease operators, drivers and our other staff take immense pride in helping to fuel Western Canada and are wholly committed to ensuring fuel is delivered across the West,” said Day.

The cash payments will assist approximately 40 lease-operated trucking companies, encompassing nearly 160 trucks and around 300 drivers.

Premier Scott Moe and Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili have each weighed in on the labor dispute between the CRC in Regina and locked-out Unifor workers. Both encouraged the two sides to come back to the bargaining table.

“This ongoing and escalating conflict is causing problems for the workers, for that business, for the economy in Regina and the province,” Meili told reporters in Saskatoon in late January.

“It’s causing folks to have concerns about safety when we’re talking about such an important and high-level facility,” Meili said. 

Tensions escalated in late January when dozens of Regina Police Service members were dispatched to the scene and arrested union members for mischief.

Some have argued that the Regina Police Service‘s role is to keep tensions from escalating. Others have also claimed the police weren’t doing enough by not forcibly removing the “illegal barricade.” 

Chad Prevost

Chad Prevost has covered a variety of beats for FreightWaves, with an emphasis on technology and industry trends. He has hosted and co-produced the shows What the Truck?!?, FreightWaves NOW, Off the Supply Chain, and Inside the Box. Prior to FreightWaves, Chad taught for seven years as an Assistant Professor of English and ran an independent publishing house. He is the author of several books, and has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Georgia State University.

2 Comments

  1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & PROSPER ! IMHO says:

    A more in depth article concerning FCL trucker compensation .

    Quote :
    February 20 2020
    FCL estimates trucker payments could cost up to $1 million

    Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) is working out details of a plan to spend up to $1 million to pay back trucking companies for income lost while the Co-op refinery and other facilities were barricaded by Unifor.

    Speaking to Gormley on Thursday morning, FCL executive vice-president Vic Huard said the idea came from a simple conversation he and CEO Scott Banda had with a couple of truck drivers outside the barricaded fuel storage facility in Carseland, Alta., last month.

    “We had a chance to talk to these two guys about the impact this had had on them and their families,” Huard said. “We talk about being able to pass the ‘red-face test’ as a senior team. We talk about, ‘When we make decisions, can we look in the mirror and pass the red-face test?’ Well, that day we had to pass the red-face test in front of these two truckers.”

    Huard said he and Banda talked on the way home about how they could do something to help.

    “We had kind of lost sight, to be honest, of that impact and so we sat down with our finance team and with our logistics team down at the refinery and we came up with this idea, this plan to compensate as best we could, these people who had foregone a considerable amount of income through no fault of their own,” Huard said.

    FCL works with about 40 different trucking companies which operate a total of 160 trucks shipping fuel out of the Co-op refinery in Regina. Huard said FCL will review the impact on individual operators based on how much they earned prior to the labour disruption and the company will base payments on those figures.

    “It’ll vary. We think somewhere between $800,000 and $1 million is probably going to be the (total) cost,” Huard said. “We don’t think of it as a cost, we think of it as an investment. This is an investment in individuals and families and the communities they live and work in.”

    When asked if this type of payment would pre-emptively stop the trucking companies from taking legal action against either Co-op or Unifor to recoup their losses, Huard said FCL legal counsel determined it would not.

    Heather Day is the president of C.S. Day Transport Ltd., which she believes is the largest of the 40 trucking companies working with FCL with a fleet of 21 trucks and up to 45 drivers.

    She said the labour dispute at the refinery has been difficult for all of the companies, noting that some are just one person in a truck.

    “It really means a lot to everybody that (FCL) just kind of stepped up and offered to look after us that way,” Day told Gormley on Thursday.

    When asked if her company took a significant financial hit during the labour dispute, especially after blockades went up around the refinery, Day said yes.

    “It was kind of like watching a slow-moving train wreck happening, but we were able to send some of our trucks over to Manitoba to try and get a little bit of fuel out of Winnipeg there until that was blockaded. But the majority of our trucks were just parked in the yard so that was quite upsetting to see,” Day said.

    Day said the payment from FCL is expected to recover about three-quarters of the financial losses for her company. She noted several trucking companies are still looking into the possibility of suing the union to recoup additional financial losses.
    The lockout at the refinery began Dec. 5 after the union issued strike notice.

    Truckers have been delayed at picket lines or locked out of Co-op facilities. In one case, trucks were locked in at the refinery when Unifor erected fences after the vehicles had entered through a gate.”

    End quote

    1. Noble1 suggests SMART truck drivers should UNITE & collectively cut out the middlemen from picking truck driver pockets ! UNITE , CONQUER , & PROSPER ! IMHO says:

      Requote:

      ” She noted several trucking companies are still looking into the possibility of suing the union to recoup additional financial losses”

      I would think that they would have a pretty strong case against UNIFOR , and would win due to the UNIFOR blockades being illegal and in contempt of court which lead to trucking Co. losses .

      I was going to quote the proverb “you reap what you sow” , however , this isn’t particularly true , especially regarding truck drivers in general in the trucking industry . For the time and work they put in , they haven’t reaped their fair share and have been fleeced instead .

      This is why if they UNITE then that proverb’s meaning will become true , for they will finally reap from what they sow, and so shall the unethical fleecing parties .

      IMHO .

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