United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 members on the picket line Tuesday morning outside the main gate to the Western Forest Products Chemainus sawmill. Pictured David Karras, left, Randy Robertson, Brian Bull, Robert Joyce, Brad Mitchell and Kevin Blatchford. (DON BODGER/Black Press)

Western Forest Products workers on Vancouver Island on strike

USW Local 1-1937 and Western Forest Products had been negotiating a new CBA since April

Western Forest Products workers represented by United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, including employees at Nanaimo’s Duke Point sawmill, have begun strike action.

According to a press release, the union, which represents some 1,500 hourly employees and 1,500 employees working for company timberland operators and contractors in the province, began a work stoppage Monday at 3:45 p.m., which affects all union-certified manufacturing and timberland operations in B.C. The previous collective agreement expired in mid-June and the two sides had been negotiating since April.

Western Forest Products has mills in Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Chemainus, the Cowichan Valley and Port Alberni and timberlands up and down Vancouver Island and at Powell River.

The union issued 72-hour strike notice on June 28 and according to Western Forest Products, the company had applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board on June 25 for mediation and made numerous requests to meet with the union and mediator.

Susan Dolinski, Western’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said the coastal forest industry is enduring “very challenging market conditions” and lumber prices are half of what they were a year ago.

“In addition, the markets for selling that lumber have been weak and that’s primarily, in the U.S., due to weather,” said Dolinksi. “Those issues, compounded also by the disproportionately high amount of duties that the coast pays on the lumber that we ship to the U.S., because of the softwood lumber dispute, and the fact that one of our key customers is in Japan and the Japanese government there is subsidizing its lumber industry, which is further eroding our market share.”

Dolinksi said Western has taken down time earlier, with three of its mills down in June and the strike action, on top of the market conditions, will really have an impact on people and communties on the coast.

Dolinksi declined to discuss details about the agreement, saying the company prefers to do negotiating at the table.

RELATED: WFP to shut Alberni sawmill for month

RELATED: Another B.C. company looks south for mill expansion

Brian Butler, USW Local 1-1937 president, hasn’t responded to a request for comment yet, but in a notice to its membership, the union said it has entered into a strike because the company hasn’t addressed the union’s proposals seriously and “continues to keep massive concessions on the bargaining table that threaten” workers. The move was not made lightly, said the union, and the company must “seriously address the membership’s proposals” and remove all of its concessions entirely.

Dolinski said agreements have been reached in B.C.’s northern and southern interior regions, where United Steelworkers, Council of Northern Interior Forest Employments Relations and Interior Forest Labour Relations Association have ratified new deals.

“We’re hopeful that on that basis the USW will agree to meet in the coming days,” said Dolinski.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Suspect pulls knife on staff at Nanaimo 7-Eleven

Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspect who allegedly took items then produced knife when staff approached

Nanaimo RCMP arrest man who allegedly pushed clerk to floor during armed robbery

Chase Peter Goodale scheduled to appear in court today, Jan. 20

Nanaimo council issues permit for mixed-use building on Terminal Avenue

29-unit residential building and café restaurant planned at 930 Terminal Ave.

VIU basketball teams winners in first home games of new year

Mariners men and women sweep past Okanagan Coyotes in PacWest action in Nanaimo

Poll: How satisfied were you with snow clearing in Nanaimo?

Several days’ worth of snowfall now melting away

VIU basketball teams winners in first home games of new year

Mariners men and women sweep past Okanagan Coyotes in PacWest action in Nanaimo

ICBC to bring in ranking system for collision, glass repair shops

Change comes after the much-maligned auto insurer has faced criticism for sky-high premiums

‘It was just so fast’: B.C. teen recalls 150-metre fall down Oregon mountain

Surrey’s Gurbaz Singh broke his leg on Mount Hood on Dec. 30

Vancouver Island Pride weekend returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Building on the success of last year’s family-friendly pride festival on Vancouver… Continue reading

Scarlett Point lighthouse keeper wins a million bucks playing the lottery

“I usually just get a quick pick, so I didn’t expect to win a big prize”

Poll suggests some don’t think Canada should send troops to stop genocide

The findings are being released just before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

B.C. woman crowned the fastest female marathon runner in Canadian history

Malindi Elmore ran an incredible 2:24:50 at the Houston Marathon

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to give refund to B.C. buyer due to puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

UPDATED: Man dies in backcountry near Nelson’s Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

Most Read