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Canadian Forestry Workers to Use Mediation to Settle Dispute

Wednesday, November, 28, 2018

Ninety eight percent of the United Steelworker members working in the forestry industry in the southern interior have agreed to strike, but will first attempt mediation to resolve the ongoing dispute. The mediation talks will be handled by the BC Labour Relations Board. Mediation comes after the two sides were unable to agree to a new collective agreement.


According to mediator Dave Schaub, the two sides will participate in three different sessions on three different days in Kelowna. The union groups involved include USW Local 1-405, USW 1-423, and USW 1-417, which total nearly 740 members. Three hundred fifty of them work at Canfor at Woodlands, Elko Sawmill, and Radium Sawmill. Another 330 work at Louisiana Pacific’s Lumber Plant in Golden, 40 of them work at Galloway Sawmill, and another 18 work at Stella Jones Pole Plant, also located in Galloway. There are another 140 members in Castlegar and 35 at Atco Wood Products in Fruitvale.


Part of the problem concerns the decision to lay off workers at the Canfor location. After reporting a profitable third quarter this year, the location still decided to require rotating layoffs. USW members believed the lay-offs were unnecessary and actually being used as a bargaining tool.


In a press release from the Steelworkers union, there was also a concern expressed about high stumpage costs.  Because of the last quarter’s lower lumber prices the rate is expected to decrease accordingly beginning in 2019. Members of the union have been in a position to strike for some time now and in the beginning of October they agreed to do so if the issues were not resolved. They have already begun participating in an overtime ban and in rotating strikes.