PORT ALBERNI, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The United Steelworkers union Local 1-1937 (USW) and the Huu-ay-aht First Nations (Huu-ay-aht) announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a process for the parties to work together to ensure the Tree Farm Licence 44 (TFL 44) undercut volume is allocated to Huu-ay-aht and to develop a job creation and training plan through the TFL 44 Woodlands Contractors that will contribute to economic revitalization of the Alberni Valley forest sector.
In pursuing the goals of the MOU, the parties will be guided by Huu-ay-aht’s three sacred principles: hishuk ma tsawak (“everything is one”); uuathluk (“taking care of”); and Iisaak (“utmost respect”) and a strong commitment to reconciliation and meeting the principles and standards of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
“USW’s commitment to reconciliation and recognition of the Maa-nulth Treaty demonstrates a respect for our citizens, current Hereditary (“Ha’wiih”) and Elected Councils, and honours the generations that came before us,” said Tayii Ha’wilth Tliishin (Head Hereditary Chief Derek Peters). “This announcement signals another step toward healing and creating a brighter future for present and future generations.”
This historic development between Huu-ay-aht and the USW affirms both parties’ commitment to advance reconciliation with First Nations on TFL 44 and provide job security, training and other benefits for current and future USW members by:
- Working together to seek the approval of the B.C. government for the allocation of the TFL 44 undercut volume to Huu-ay-aht;
- Committing to continue harvesting the undercut volume with a USW-certified workforce;
- Developing a long-term plan to create over 50 well-paid, long-term USW jobs on TFL 44 for Huu-ay-aht citizens and other First Nations citizens with territory within TFL 44;
- Establishing a pilot project to place 10 Huu-ay-aht/TFL 44 First Nations citizens in TFL 44 USW jobs with TFL 44 Woodlands Contractors over the next 12 months; and
- Developing a long-term conditional job creation and training plan for implementation when the TFL 44 undercut is awarded to Huu-ay-aht, including retirement incentives, workforce training and preferential hiring and other considerations.
“The signing of this MOU is demonstration of a commitment that a stronger future can be achieved by working together to advance both of our interests in the forest sector,” said Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. “It also acknowledges USW’s adherence to Huu-ay-aht values on the Huu-ay-aht traditional territory, and we look forward to taking this reconciliation step, and further steps, toward full reconciliation as we work with the USW.”
“The Steelworkers’ commitment to represent and support First Nations members and their communities is part of our commitment to meeting the principles and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Brian Butler, President of USW Local 1-1937. “Over time, the loss of harvesting opportunities has had an impact on USW members, and we are confident that as we continue to build our relationship with Huu-ay-aht, we will not only advance our members’ interests, we will expand our joint interests in the Alberni Valley forest sector.”
“The work that USW Local 1-1937 President Brian Butler and his staff have done on this initiative with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations on Vancouver Island is a great example of what the labour movement and First Nations can do when we work together in the best interests of the First Nations people, our members and reconciliation,” said USW Wood Council Chair Jeff Bromley. “First Nations’ rights are human rights and together we can promote workers’ rights through understanding, the spirit of reconciliation and forward thinking as USW Local 1-1937 and the Huu-ay-aht people have clearly demonstrated.”
The job creation and training plan will address the eligibility criteria and formula for any retirement incentives as well as arrangements for workforce training and preferential hiring. The USW represents over 14,000 members in the forestry sector in Canada.