United Steelworkers members on the picket line of the Western Forest Products facility at Menzies Bay, just north of Campbell River, on Aug. 26, 2019. Mirror File Photo

United Steelworkers members on the picket line of the Western Forest Products facility at Menzies Bay, just north of Campbell River, on Aug. 26, 2019. Mirror File Photo

STRIKE: WFP and USW are back at the table for mediation

“No further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks”

Western Forest Products and the United Steel Workers Local 1-1937 (USW) are back at the table trying to hammer out an agreement that will hopefully end the workers’ strike that has been going on since the beginning of July.

Brian Butler, President, USW Local 1-1937, issued a press release on Oct. 17 confirming that the union’s bargaining committee is “currently involved in mediation with Western Forest Products.”

Butler added the parties have agreed to a media blackout while mediation is underway, and there will be “no further updates until either an agreement is reached or one party or the other breaks off talks.”

A few facts about the strike:

The workers have been on strike since Canada Day, after 98.8 per cent of its members voted in favour of strike action when the two sides couldn’t negotiate an agreement to replace the five-year one that expired mid-June.

The USW have said its members started the job action because the company has not seriously addressed union proposals and continues to keep “massive concessions” on the bargaining table as both sides try to negotiate a new collective agreement.

WFP confirmed that approximately 1,500 of the company’s hourly employees and 1,500 employees working for the company’s timberlands operators and contractors in B.C. went on strike.

The strike affects all of the company’s United Steelworkers certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in B.C.

The BC Federation of Labour announced a “hot edict” July 11 on WFP in a show of solidarity with striking forest workers.

On Aug. 20, WFP sent out an email to employees stating that the company is not obligated to provide benefits when a collective agreement is not in place. During the last strike on Vancouver Island in 2007, WFP covered employees’ benefits while they were on the picket line, and employees paid the company back.

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