The two sides involved in the dispute concerning Princeton’s Weyerhaeuser Mill think that mediation could be the key to helping them avoid a strike. Both sides are ready and willing to participate in meetings.
According to Jeff Roos, who serves as president of the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association said that his side is optimistic an agreement can be reached via mediation.
There are approximately 200 workers at the mill, which makes it the second largest of all employers in Princeton.
The mill workers have been on the job without a contract since July of this year. In October, they voted 98 percent in favor of a strike mandate. On the 17th of that same month, the United Steel Workers Local 1-423 issued an information bulletin that claimed the mill operators were asking for changes to the workers’ benefits packages that would harm workers.
According to the bulletin, the changes included reducing name brand drug coverage and capping dental work coverage for workers. There was also a claim that mill operators wanted to the ability to change schedules and eliminate overtime pay for workers who are part of the Saturday clean-up crews at the mills.
Another concern was the discipline sunset clause. The changes in benefits wanted by mill operators would eliminate the clause and extend the probationary period and eliminate grading ticket premiums.
The union is opposed to all of these changes.
Local Union Plant Chairman Barry Ovington called a strike “highly unlikely” and promised there would not be a complete shut-down of the mill. He believes at worst there would be only rotating one-day strikes until an agreement is reached.