Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 held a rally at Western Forest Products’ office in Campbell River on Sept. 26, 2019. The WFP workers have been on strike since July 1. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River MirrorUnited Steelworkers Local 1-1937 held a rally at Western Forest Products’ office in Campbell River on Sept. 26, 2019. The WFP workers have been on strike since July 1. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror
Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally
Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally
Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally
Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally
Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally

Striking loggers received words of encouragement from union and government leadership at a rally in Campbell River today.

Hundreds of United Steelworkers (USW) union members and their supporters gathered in the lot below Western Forest Products’ (WFP) second-storey office in the Discovery Harbour Centre Thursday afternoon.

Holding up signs that read: “Unsociable Alternate Shifts,” “WFP Unfair Drug Policy,” “WFP Bullies of the Woods” among others, the crowd chanted their approval of the speakers.

WFP workers have been on strike since July 1, after 98.8 per cent of the USW members voted in favour of a strike when the two sides couldn’t ratify a collective agreement to replace their previous five-year agreement.

Mediation talks broke down mid-September.

The crowd heard from USW Local 1-1937 President Brian Butler, who said the union wasn’t willing to agree to the 24 concessions brought to the bargaining table.

“Somewhere they calculated that our members are weak. Somewhere they calculated that our union was weak,” he said. “Well I can tell you right now they are dead wrong. We will be on the picket line one day longer than this company is willing to take.”

He was interrupted as the crowd broke into chants of: “One more day.”

Butler referenced a WFP drug and alcohol policy and alternate shift schedules.

“These are dangerous shifts that have long hours,” he said. “They not only put workers in danger, they are shifts that are not conducive to having a quality family life.”

The crowd then heard from USW Local 2009 President Al Bieksa, who was visiting from the Lower Mainland.

“I know the kind of courage it takes to stand on a picket line and go against a multi-billion dollar corporation,” he said. “I know the courage and the determination that every one of you have when you made your decision to stick with your bargaining committee and go on strike for what you say is fair.”

He offered support from the 3,000 members on the Lower Mainland.

Jeff Bromley, the USW Wood Council Chair then addressed concerns over health benefits.

He said that on Sept. 1, a lot of the striking workers’ benefits were cut off, leaving more than 1,000 without access to benefits. But as of this morning, the Coastal Health and Welfare Trustees along with USW Local 1-1937 had entered into an agreement “to provide for your benefits in the same manner they are currently in and so your benefits will be restored if you opt in.”

The workers were congratulated by many of the speakers, including Rachel Blaney, NDP candidate seeking re-election in North Island – Powell River, for their bravery in continuing to strike after nearly three months on the picket line.

“I know it’s hard. I want to recognize that,” she said. “It’s hard to keep standing up every single day, waking up knowing you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to let people know. And it’s hard on people. It’s hard financially; it’s hard emotionally. And we know that we’re going to last that one extra day, but damn it’s hard when we have to do it every single day.”

Another rally is planned for WFP’s Nanaimo office, but a date and time were not announced.

RELATED: Union says mediated negotiation with WFP has been ‘disappointing’

RELATED: Striking WFP workers in Campbell River say loss of benefits will ‘create animosity that will last for years’


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

These Douglas fir logs were recently found poached on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
OPINION: Cowichan Valley’s Six Mountains Forest: War or Peace—The Choice is Ours

Icel Dobel writes in favour of protecting Cowichan Valley forests

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District is working with several Vancouver Island art councils on the Digitial Innovation Group to improve digital skills for Island artists. (Submitted photo)
Digital Innovation Group supports digital literacy for Island artists

The goal is to leverage digital skills to promote Vancouver Island as an ‘arts powerhouse’

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Discarded construction materials make up nearly 40 per cent of all materials sent to the landfill from sources in the city of Victoria. (Zero Waste Victoria)
Victoria looks to curb waste by turning demolitions into deconstructions

Community drafting bylaw forcing developers to be better at salvage and recycling

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

Most Read