Volume 23 | Issue 2 | March 2023


Mental Health 1st Aid

Scholarship Thank You

Turnaround 2023

Grievance Handling

CSS Corner

Last Laugh



New Members



Nathan Kraemer

Recording Secretary:

Ellen Foley


Kaleena Baulin

Negotiating Chairperson:

Shaun Jenkins

Maintenance V.P.:

Karl Dahle

Process V.P.:

Wade Schnell

Administration V.P.:

Kurt Haakensen (Interim)


Jamie Wolf (Interim)

Chief Shop Steward:

Richard Exner

Information Officer:

Ashlyn Heintz

Maintenance V.P. Assistant:

6 Month Trial: Garth Wendel


Brandon Mang

Sergeant at Arms:

Nic Skulski


Amy Wisniewski 

Daryl Watch 

Anton Skulski


On January 17th and 18th, 2023 numerous union shop stewards and management attended a Mental Health First Aid two-day workshop at the RBO.

This two-day course emphasizes different issues surrounding mental health such as Mental health and Mental health problems, substance abuse disorders, mood-related disorders, anxiety & trauma disorders, and psychotic disorders. These topics not only affect our workplace but also our home lives and families. The course wasn’t to teach the participants how to solve issues related to mental health, but on ways to identify problems and to be supportive in finding proper assistance for a person with an issue to receive the proper assistance. An example would be if a co-worker seems to be struggling we can support them by urging them to talk to a doctor or other resources available. 

How does mental health affect our workplace? Good mental health is a win-win for everyone involved in the workplace. For the employer, productive and engaged employees are required to run an efficient business; for coworkers especially in a safety-sensitive atmosphere like the Refinery, knowing that your coworker is fully engaged and not struggling is a must to ensure the safe operation of equipment, etc. If you have concerns about any employees well-being please reach out to a union executive member or shop steward and they will try and help point the individual to the proper support.    

One of the issues I found intriguing was a great discussion about getting help and how sometimes proper assistance isn't one size fits all. The instructor's experience (who has been in the mental health field for years as an RN), talked about how a good fit of counselor can help with the support process. This got me thinking about how our EFAP provider Homewood health works and if it is adequate to support our employees. Telehealth just isn't good enough for our members. We deserve options and I hope this is an area in the future we can advocate for our members to get more diverse services. 

Unfortunately, there currently are a lot of these mental health issues in society and I’m glad I took this course to let me identify issues that I can assist others. I recommend that when offered, more of our members attend. 

Ryan Shillingford

F&S Shop Steward



Karla Hanson


Debbie Bourassa &

Mitch Bloos

Building Maintenance:

Garth Wendel


Mike Pelzer


Sam Seibel


Corey Strass & Colin Waldie

Fire & Safety:

Daryl Watch &

Ryan Shillingford

Information Technology:

Cory Frederickson


Shane Thompson


Dave Mushynsky &

Jaret McCloy & Chris Szala


Luke McGeough &

Brandon Mang


Andrea Jordan & Mike Fink


Derek Kups & Karter Diewold

MRP: Garth Wendel

PDD Loading: Jamie Wolf

PDD Warehouse: Vacant

PDD Office:

Christal Wisniewski


Jeremy Lukomski

& Dan Ross


Ryan Dzioba


Nelson Wagman

Section IA:

Charles Brittner

Section IB:

Charles Brittner

Section II:

Jason Sharp

Section III:

Josh Hollinger

Section IV:

Pat Pilot & Cam Parisien

Section V:

Andrew Murray


Nathan Fafard


Scott Wicklund


Thank you so much for choosing me to be the recipient of the Shirley Reynolds scholarship. I feel very honoured to have been chosen.

My dad met Shirley when he first started at the refinery and said she was very active in the union. As I pursue my career in nursing, I’m certain that I will be part of a union in my future. I hope any union that I’m a part of has the same strength and resilience that I saw in Unifor 594 members when I joined my dad on the picket line in 2019/2020. Hopefully, I can exude some of these same qualities while I pursue my nursing career, and help patients.

Thanks again to all of the Unifor 594 members for the scholarship to put towards my education.

Carley Hooper


Our 594 members will be working together with the Turnaround group doing instrumentation, electrical, and millwright work. While in the maintenance department, we will be working in the Coker, ARDS, and Sulphur Units. As well, there will be members helping with the coordination and execution of the other units.

2023 Turnaround is already underway with Section 5 and Sections 2/3/4 are scheduled to start in April with May long weekend being the target end date for all four sections. Section 5 is relatively straightforward with the CAT and Open, Clean, Inspect, Close (OCIC) on vessels and exchangers. Crude Vac has a giant project called the TAN (Total Acid Number) Project. The TAN Project is a conversion from 9 Chrome to 317L stainless piping. It will increase the amount of acid that can go through the pipes which will allow us to buy cheaper crude and increase profits. The TAN Project has approximately 4500 weld inches and 1800ft of piping and needs to be completed in 48 days.

In the HDS we are doing a catalyst change out and converting three high-pressure exchangers from welded diaphragms to kammprofile gaskets. This will increase reliability on the run and save on maintenance costs in the future. For units 21/23, the focus will be on the Reformer and replacing a tube as well as catalyst changeouts.

Some units in Sections 2/3 will be Turnaround units and the work will be performed by our maintenance team. Unit B train will have the first condenser and one reheater replaced. In ARDS, we will be doing a complete catalyst change out. In the Coker, we will also be completing some welding and annual maintenance.

Turnaround is a very busy time of the year with many new people on site, a lot of moving parts, and an increase in work hours. It is easy for fatigue and complacency to creep in, and a scenario that can lead to injuries or worse. So everyone at 594 and the Turnaround department, be safe and watch out for the persons working beside you.

Karl Dahle, Maintenance VP


Part 1

Unions are like insurance, it's better to have it and not need it, than have nothing when you need it.

I watch and listen to out-of-scope members get yelled at, belittled, and threatened by their supervisors and wonder why they do not stand up for themselves. I guess fear of losing their job is more powerful than standing up for their rights.

That is why I love being in a union, especially Unifor, we are not alone and if someone needs help or support, they are not alone. I learned in the 3-day grievance course that when it comes to someone in the union who needs help, they get trained and knowledgeable union reps to help them through the process of grieving any wrongdoings caused by the company or management.

We must remember that managers are people who do not know everything and make mistakes all the time, after all, they are only human.

The 3-day grievance course showed me that it is not just the paperwork that makes a grievance happen. There are meetings, investigations, information gathering, and many hours of volunteer work and preparation that goes into each grievance and you are not alone.

There is a group of 594 brothers and sisters here to help you. It's easy to push a lone person around, but hard to push Unifor members around because we are not alone, we stand together and fight for our rights.

Unifor has many years of experience and people to help, united we stand together. Stay strong my sisters and brothers of 594. Remember union dues are not to pay for parties, gatherings, and entertainment; but are there to ensure you are protected and supported emotionally, spiritually, and financially when you need it.

Shane Thompson

Unifor 594, VMG Shop Steward

Part 2

On February 28 to March 2, I had the privilege of attending Unifor National’s Grievance Handling Course in Moose Jaw. It is aimed at new shop stewards, such as myself, to provide a basic foundation from which to build as we take on our new roles.

It began as an introduction to Unifor and origins in the 1980s and early 1990s, when our predecessor unions broke away from their American counterparts, becoming the CAW and CEP unions, who later merged in 2013 to become Canada’s largest private sector union. We also learned about the structure of Unifor National.

From there we dove into what our roles are as shop stewards and got an introduction to grievances and the processes involved when it comes time to stand up for our members’ rights in the workplace. We listened to stories, shared some experiences, and did some group activities where we were given a scenario, and had to decide if and what types of grievances were to be filed, and learned how to properly fill out a standard grievance form.

The course touched on many issues affecting people in workplaces today including gender equality, domestic violence, harassment, depression, suicide, and addictions. The goal is not so much to become experts or counsellors ourselves regarding these issues, but rather to have the level of understanding necessary to better help them find the resources we have available through our employer.

Whether we are simply helping a co-worker in need, working to ensure the terms outlined in our collective agreement are upheld, or coming to someone’s aid against an excessive reprimand, the goal here is the same as it is for everything else we do as a local: to ensure our membership, as a whole, arrives at the best possible outcome.

Thank you for the opportunity,

Cam Parisien, Section 4 Shop Steward


It has been a little over seven months since the Grievance Backlog Project (GBP) began and those serious conversations about the 150-plus active grievances have resulted in numerous settlements or grievance resolutions. They can include a wide range of terms and conditions for both parties and vary depending on the fact-specific circumstances.


The GBP process has forced the Company & Union to be creative in crafting settlements, in ways not typical of the grievance process. In many instances, the individuals at the center of the issue are no longer employed at the refinery and institutional knowledge is lost. While a side's stance or interpretation of the issue at the heart of the grievances may not have changed, there is a common willingness to resolve or move on from long-standing disputes and improve the labour relations climate.


Normally, arbitration awards provide clear direction and interpretation of a collective agreement issue and the decision is binding to all parties, but arbitrations are highly combative, time-consuming and expensive. Ultimately, the Arbitrator has all the power. Reaching a settlement before arbitration is likely to yield an outcome that is more beneficial to everyone involved.


Throughout the GBP we have reached a variety of settlements that has impacted members from every corner of the plant. This could include altered/reduced suspensions or discipline. We have also resolved grievances that result in the Company making charitable donations in 594's name. Or it could be direct monetary compensation to a member if there were missed work opportunities or a potential violation of rights afforded by the collective agreement. Another potential example would be the Company making a commitment to enter maintenance work into the Contractor Log Book that was previously missed.


It's not unusual for settlements that include a benefit or damages to the Union, to also include language that an agreement won't be deemed or construed as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by the Company. Grievances filed regarding more sensitive issues are likely to see additional confidentiality clauses added to settlement documents. This constrains all parties from discussing details or specifics about the settlement more than otherwise legally necessary.


There are two other common phrases found in the majority of settlements, the first being "non-precedent setting". This means that the settlement cannot be used as a guide, rule or justification for subsequent similar situations. The second common phrase being "without prejudice". This basically means that statements made in the settlement of an existing dispute cannot be relied upon as evidence or used against one of the parties in the future. As an example, if we settled a door repair contracting out grievance that included this language, while beneficial at the time, we could very well end up filing the exact same grievance a month or week later for the exact same thing and we'd have to start from scratch. While we may settle a specific grievance from a specific moment in time, it simply "kicks the can down the road" because it doesn't necessarily resolve the question of when can the Company contract out door repairs. To get that answer, the parties must advance the grievance to arbitration.


The Union continues to engage the Company in good faith GBP discussions to pursue as many settlements as possible that are advantageous to all involved, but at the end of the day our directive is to protect the collective agreement and the rights of the membership. Doing so will result in a better, more successful work environment.

Richard Exner, Chief Shop Steward


  • Congratulations Tyler Bird (Yield Accounting) and MacKenzie who welcomed their daughter Abby May born February 22, 2023.
Employee & Family Assistance Program
The Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is through Homewood Health and is available 24/7/365. Call 1-800-663-1142 or reach out to a trusted confident, friend or co-worker if you aren't feeling like yourself.

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