United Steelworkers 1-1937 workers walked off their jobs at Western Forest Products back in July. Pictured here, a November union rally in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Steelworkers union, Western Forest Products look to end seven-month strike

Two sides meeting with mediators Sunday

Western Forest Products and United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 are headed back to the table with mediators Sunday in an effort to end a seven-month strike.

Union workers walked off the job in early July citing the company hadn’t addressed union proposals seriously and kept “massive concessions on the bargaining table.” Western Forest Products confirmed the two sides are meeting Sunday, Feb. 2.

“We have a meeting scheduled with mediators, Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers, this weekend and we will take our lead from them on next steps,” the company said in an e-mail. “Western is doing everything we can to reach a mutually beneficial settlement with the USW.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers rally against concessions

RELATED: Western Forest Products workers on Island strike

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in a press release, the union expressed hope that the company would change its position on alternate shifts, adjust its drug and alcohol policy and withdraw its concessions.

Butler previously told the News Bulletin that the alternate schedules were “unsafe” and referred to the company drug and alcohol policy as an “arbitrary process” which isn’t applied fairly. Binding arbitration in previous negotiations is responsible for the current impasse, according to Butler.

“That binding process in 2004 has led to this strike today, stripping away workers’ rights,” Butler told the News Bulletin in December. “Workers are fighting to regain some control over their safety and well-being in the workplace.”



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

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