Constructive labor and management relations are the foundation of good human resource management and, as such, are very important to Resolute Forest Products' business. Regular dialogue with union leaders, local union representatives and employees at all our operations ensures that these key stakeholders are kept informed and engaged.
We are committed to the collective bargaining process and believe that considering the views of our employees and protecting their right to freedom of association are fundamental to our way of doing business. We currently do not have any operations in countries where employees’ rights to exercise freedom of association or collective bargaining may be at significant risk.
Renewing expired or expiring collective agreements at pulp, paper and wood products operations is one of Resolute’s public commitments, ensuring our competitiveness as an employer while supporting our long-term viability.
Resolute works diligently with employees and union leadership on the mutually beneficial renewal of collective agreements. In 2021, we renewed seven collective agreements covering 540 employees in Canada. We are also committed to renewing 20 collective agreements covering 1,160 employees at pulp and paper operations and 860 employees at wood products facilities in 2022.
In 2021, the company’s unionization rate was 59%. The annual decreases observed in 2020 and 2021 were as a result of the acquisition of three U.S. sawmills and Hagerstown (Maryland) tissue converting facility – where employees are not unionized – as well as the idling of the Amos and Baie-Comeau (Quebec) newsprint mills, where a significant number of unionized employees worked.
% of Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements
|Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements
Notice Period for Operational Changes
Resolute aims to be proactive in informing all stakeholders as soon as possible when there is a need for major changes that will affect our employees.
Minimum notice periods for significant operational changes are subject to a variety of national or local standards, including the U.S. Warn Act, the Act respecting labor standards in Quebec, and the Employment Standards Act (2000) in Ontario. However, in all regions where we operate, the standard notice period is a minimum of two weeks. Additional conditions are specified in the collective agreements that cover 59% of our employees and are renegotiated and renewed by union leaders and company representatives on a regular basis.
Pension and Other Post-Employment Benefit Plans
Resolute sponsors multiple contributory and non-contributory defined benefit pension plans, in addition to numerous defined contribution plans, for our U.S. and Canadian employees. The company also provides various group insurance plans for employees and other post-employment benefit (OPEB) plans for retirees, depending on the circumstances. Some of the above plans are covered under collective bargaining agreements.
In 2021,100% of employees were eligible for participation in company retirement plans. A total of 93% of our employees participated in a plan. Membership in Canadian pension plans is mandatory, and an optional defined contribution plan is available in the United States.
Employee contributions generally range from 0% to 8% of their salary, while employer contributions range from 2.5% to 10% of the employee’s salary, depending on the location and applicable collective agreements.
The pension administration committee (PAC) oversees the day-to-day administration and other non-investment responsibilities of the Canadian pension plans, as well as the U.S. pension plans and the U.S. group insurance programs. The pension investment committee (PIC) oversees the investment of plan assets, including the review, update and approval of the investment policies, and monitors investment performance.
We track and report our plans’ obligations, assets and liabilities on an annual basis. The latest assessment is available in our 2021 Form 10-K, along with detailed information on the methods used to calculate these figures.
In 2021, Resolute contributed $86 million to our defined benefit pension plans and $18 million to our defined contribution pension plans, while recognizing a $31 million credit in aggregate, before special events. We also made payments of $11 million to OPEB plans, while recognizing a $6 million credit to the net periodic benefit cost, before special events.