(Following is a copy of a letter sent to the North Island Gazette)
In response to “Save On Foods in Port Hardy is accepting donations for striking loggers”, I would like to provide further information to ensure your readers are aware of the efforts that Western is making to bring an end to the strike.
We all agree, the strike has gone on too long. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about the impact the USW strike is having on our employees, their families, and communities who are feeling it the most. That is why we have been working in earnest to get people back to work.
The article cites ‘concessions’ that the company put on the bargaining table. This is not accurate. Western’s most recent proposal maintains the terms of the previous collective agreement and offers more in wages than other recent forest-industry agreements. Western made its latest offer public to enable everyone to see, and draw their own conclusions, about whether they believe it is fair and recognizes the important contributions of employees.
Western had asked the USW to take our offer to the membership for vote. We also proposed that employees return to work during the voting process. We proposed binding arbitration. All of these proposals were made with the singular goal of ending the strike. All of these proposals were rejected by the USW.
Every day brings another story about curtailments because of market and cost challenges facing the forest sector. In these challenging times, it is critical that unions, companies, and government work together to protect the working forest and improve the cost structure to ensure we can continue to offer sustainable employment and benefits to communities. That continues to be our commitment as we work to end the strike and bring people back to work.
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Western Forest Products