One Union Settles 5 1/2-Week Strike Against Weyerhaeuser
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Timber workers agreed to pay cuts of about $4 an hour in return for a profit-sharing plan and more job protection in settling a 5 1/2 -week strike against Weyerhaeuser Co., union officials said.
With the deal, ratified by union members throughout Washington and Oregon, the International Woodworkers of America ended its strike, but a second union remained on strike today against the timber giant and a smaller timber company in Oregon.
Vernon ″Red″ Russell, president of the IWA’s Western Council, said Friday that members voted 2,833 to 1,458 for a contract offered by Weyerhaeuser, based in Tacoma, Wash.
The contract cuts wages and benefits about $4 an hour in exchange for a profit-sharing plan and concessions to union demands on seniority and job protection, Russell said.
About 6,500 members of the union and 1,000 members of the Lumber, Production and Industrial Workers union walked out June 16 at 22 Weyerhaeuser mills and logging operations in Washington and Oregon.
The smaller union remains on strike, but officials said members would be offered a tentative contract next week essentially the same as the IWA pact, which had been endorsed by union leadership.
″I can’t tell you anything more, because I don’t know anything more,″ said Paul Vlastelica, business agent for the lumber union local in Aberdeen, Wash.
About 700 LPIW workers also are on strike against Willamette Industries Inc., based in Portland. They joined about 550 IWA workers early this week who remain on strike against the company.
Willamette has asked the unions for wage cuts of up to $1.65 an hour and benefit reductions worth about $1 an hour.
Paul Stuckenschneider, a federal mediator involved in the negotiations, said a 2 1/2 -hour bargaining session on Friday between Willamette and the unions failed to produce an agreement.
Weyerhaeuser’s executive vice president, Charles Bingham, said at a news conference in Seattle that the company was grateful to have settled the IWA strike.
″It gives the company the best chance to compete in the economic environment,″ Bingham said. ″We have an increasing volume of timber to be logged in the next 10 to 20 years. Our intention is to stay here in the community and be competitive.″
Weyerhaeuser officials had threatened to close its woods operations and some mills and hire replacement workers unless the strike was settled.