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Last updated: August 24. 2013 5:17AM - 27 Views

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Wednesday's resumption of labor negotiations between Husky and United Steel Workers union Local 624 could provide a signal as to how long the current strike will last.We are not surprised the strike is entering its 10th day. The fact the union decided to walk for the first time in more than 30 years shows how serious it views these negotiations, On the same token, Husky feels it needs to take a hard stance given the uncertainty of the economy in recent years.Those two things do not provide the making for quick settlements.Still, the issues dividing the two sides appear to be the type that are more easily worked out. That's why we fear if the new round of talks break off without an agreement, it is likely both sides are digging in for the long haul.Unlike most strikes, the Steelworkers and Husky maintain wages are not an issue. Increases in wages the next three years will see the average wage at $37 an hour. Husky will pay 80 percent of medical insurance and a proposed 401k pension plan increases contributions for 99 percent of employees, including immediate vesting.The sticking points are working conditions, safety and the use of vacation time, according to union president Mike Edelbrock.The shift workers at the refinery have long worked among themselves and traded shifts to accommodate each other's need for time off, Edelbrock said. The company wants to exert more control over that process. The union is also asking for more protection for members should they become injured on the job, through short-term and long-term disability.Only one thing is certain about labor negotiations: They are unpredictable. Plenty of posturing by both Husky and the union has taken place to this point. Hopefully, there will be less of that during this week's negotiations.We are concerned about the ramifications a long strike would have on the 230-plus employees, their families, the community and the Husky plant.Let's hope it doesn't come to that.



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