07/06/2006 11:00PM

Woodbine deal reached


Woodbine's parimutuel workers, who have been on strike since June 21, were scheduled to be back on the job as of noon Saturday after an undisclosed majority voted in favor of a new contract Thursday night.

Woodbine and representatives of the Canadian Racetrack Workers Union, which is aligned with Teamsters Local 419, resumed negotiations on Wednesday night.

"We're delighted to have a settlement," said Nick Eaves, senior vice president of Woodbine.

Brian Henderson, president of the racetrack workers' union, said more than 300 of the group's approximately 680 members were on hand when the offer was presented.

The fundamental issue in the disagreement between Woodbine and the mutuel workers involved the length of shifts, which had been limited to 4 1/2 hours.

Woodbine wanted seniority-list mutuel employees to work an average of 24 hours a week in order to receive benefits. The union wanted longer shifts to make that goal more readily attainable.

"We will still have a number of 4 1/2-hour shifts, but at least on all shifts you will get credit for five hours towards your 24 hours," said Henderson.

Henderson also said the three-year agreement includes a 50-cent an hour increase each year and a buyout package based on years of service, which he expects some mutuel workers to take.

"That will free up more hours for the people who are left," said Henderson.