Jenn MacPherson, from the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, leads the crowd in chanting during a United Steelworkers union local rally in front of Western Forest Products’ Nanaimo office on Nov. 6. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Jenn MacPherson, from the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union, leads the crowd in chanting during a United Steelworkers union local rally in front of Western Forest Products’ Nanaimo office on Nov. 6. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Striking Western Forest Products union workers on Vancouver Island rally against concessions

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 holds march and rally in Nanaimo

Despite a work stoppage entering its fifth month, striking Island Western Forest Products workers have no intention of conceding in a new labour deal, says their labour leader.

Workers from United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 have been behind picket lines since July 1 and on Wednesday they gathered for a march to the company’s Nanaimo office and a subsequent rally. Brian Butler, union president, said the union has rejected “binding mediation” and there are no current plans for further negotiations.

“This is a good economy where this company is making millions of dollars and making record profits and they’re coming to the table with concessions? Those two things just don’t mix,” said Butler. “So we’re never going to take concessions. We’ve been saying that from Day 1 and they realize, and they must know by now, that they’re never going to get an agreement with us with those concessions on the table. They need to get them off and get a fair deal with our union.”

RELATED: Striking WFP workers await word on potential mediation

RELATED: Island Western Forest Product workers on strike

Butler said seniority is one of the concessions the union takes issue with.

“They’ve unilaterally cancelled all [seniority rights and training and job security agreements] and our position is those agreements will not be cancelled,” said Butler. “They will have to be back in place because they are not going to erode our seniority rights … the union’s based on seniority and senior members will get the opportunity for those training postings and they’re not going to strip those rights away from us.”

Stephen Hunt, union director for western Canada, said the company is seeking an agreement similar with other agreements in B.C., but those are apples-to-oranges comparisons.

“The industry is different on the Island and it’s a different industry than it is in the Interior. Doesn’t suffer through the same cycles and it’s a different product mix, so we’re dealing with a slightly different industry and slightly different work force as well,” said Hunt.

Butler said workers from across the Island were invited to attend Wednesday’s rally and organizers estimated more than 300 people attended.

According to Susan Dolinski, Western Forest Products’ vice-president of corporate affairs, the company recognizes how challenging the labour dispute is for employees, their families and communities and is doing everything it can to end the strike.

Dolinski said the company has agreed with a mediator on a potential negotiation date, but has not yet heard back from the union.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter and Instagram

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

Just Posted

Emma Garriott is releasing her second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst.’ (Emma Garriott / Facebook photo)
North Island musician releases second album titled ‘Sad White Girl Angst’

“When you hear it, I want you to feel like your best friend in the whole world is sitting beside you’

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

Jay Vaughn, Brian Pohto and Janet Pohto opened up the Island Sun’s tuna freezers for anyone worried about food thawing over the four-day power outage on Malcolm Island. (Christopher Hurst photo)
Community shines bright during power outage

Hardest hit areas on the North Island stepped up to keep neighbours warm and fed

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read