Why are 1100 Timber workers on strike in Oregon and Washington?

In the early hours of Tuesday in Washington and Oregon, hundreds of employees of Weyerhaeuser, one of the biggest wood firms in the country, started a huge strike.

The most recent contract negotiations, according to the workers, did not result in a significant raise in pay or improved retirement benefits. In addition, they claim that under the proposed agreement, workers would have to begin paying a healthcare insurance premium without any upgrades in coverage.

The Weyerhaeuser workplaces in Aberdeen, Longview, Raymond, Coos Bay, Springfield, and Cottage Grove are on strike.

All Weyerhauser employees who are covered by the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace (IAM) Workers union are participating in the strike.

The Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Longview, located on the Columbia River’s banks, exports wood and wood products all over the world. Normally a busy complex, it is suddenly empty as thousands of logs that were put onto ships and trucks on Tuesday began to pile up. According to Kelly Zink, the head of the local IAM union, this is the first strike by Weyerhaeuser employees since 1986.

The strike vote was nearly overwhelmingly approved, and the contract proposal was almost universally rejected, according to Zink.

The business’s union contracts are typically successfully renewed every four years, according to the striking workers, but they claim the corporation is not doing enough to adequately compensate workers in the present economic climate.

We’ve had openings for millwrights, electricians, and production workers, but it’s been incredibly difficult for us to hire any employees or even get any staff to show up for interviews, according to maintenance manager Rick Davis. “We’ve had a number of staff depart for jobs just across the street for greater pay,”

According to Davis, Timber from the Longview sawmill is exported to Asia and feeds large box hardware shops all over the West Coast. Until a new deal is established, all exports, according to Davis, will be stopped.

We’ll remain in place until they want to return to the negotiating table and present a sizable pay raise and benefits package.

1100 Timber workers on strike in Oregon
1100 Timber workers on strike in Oregon

Upper management at Weyerhaeuser was unavailable for an interview, but a corporate representative emailed back the following statement instead:

“While we are disappointed in their choice to strike, we are committed to standing by our staff members and bargaining with union officials in good faith. We are ready to carry on the conversation in order to create a contract that is advantageous for the workers and enduring for the firm through all economic cycles.

Where the discussions are and how long the strike will last are both unknown at this time.

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