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workers work in straight jackets
utility journeymen/master mechanic


There are people that are begrudgingly there. They are angry every day, they don't want to do that job anymore, they've been doing it for 25 years. The same job, the same place, the same little pieces of the mill. These people don't need to be weaned out, they have to be given a chance to leave. Some of them would love to leave. Why do they live in these areas outside Vancouver.. Because they like to hunt and fish, they have 2 RV vehicles, their wives are staying at home, they want to go and see the grandchildren. Guess what, they can't do it because they don't have any bucks. This is the kind of incentives I have said to the companies "pour a little bit of cash into that, it will pay dividends in the long run". Because the people that are going to be coming in are the people that are flexible in terms of their mind sets, compared to the way we used to be. These kids have to deal with computers, have to deal with that changing lifestyle out there and all the other pressures. Certainly, they are much more agreeable to adapting and adjusting.

So, I agree totally. If you go at that end, and you go slower at the other end, depending on the kind of demographics that your work force has, then you've got to temper it so that the union can preach to their people. The influx of people coming in, that is where you put the emphasis. A whole lot of education has to be there as to how the company can become more competitive. Because, yes, the workers work in straight jackets, they didn't put the straight jackets on themselves. Trade guide lines were there because of management agreeing to trade guide lines.

3. Ralph Franke - Fletcher Challenge, Mackenzie

How far do you think we are going to go on this flexibility thing? I'm not one of the senior members of this group but somewhere, sometime past, we had a master mechanic. Those master mechanics is what management thinks we are going to get to today. Someone who can do just about everything. There were reasons that companies went to the different trades. How far do you think we're going to go?


I don't see it in the next 5 years, and I don't call it master mechanics, I call it utility journeyman, same concept, but I think I'll still be alive when we start talking about the utility journeymen/master mechanic. I think slowly but surely we are coming around to the same thing. That might be overly optimistic, but I believe in change. I believe that as long as you pace the change, keep it moderate, it can be attained. It's when you get an adverse reaction to it that people will remember. "Remember when they tried to ram that in June 1996 and we stopped and stood up". They'll be talking about that 5 years from now. The work force and the union never miss a beat in terms of pace, the pace you introduce change to them. The master mechanic will come after the trades themselves have said that if you are one trade, pipefitter or welder, you might have to do a little work for each other, and as they get on, they still have to cross-train.

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