Four weeks into the union-wide Weyerhaeuser strike, employees on strike in Rainier didn’t sound hopeful that a deal would be reached in a timely manner as of Wednesday, Oct. 5.
The strike began on Sept. 12 after the union employees were presented contracts by the company that fell short of their requests.
Weyerhaeuser employees have picketed near the Vail Cutoff Road in Rainier for weeks.
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Woodworkers District Lodge W24 authorized members to strike against Weyerhaeuser on Sept. 2. Workers throughout Washington and Oregon officially began their strike 10 days later.
Steve Miller, operations supervisor at Weyerhaeuser, felt the contract presented by the company fell short of the expectations of the employees. Miller said Weyerhaeuser was supposed to present the new contract at the end of May or start of June, but they “procrastinated.”
Nearly four months later, Weyerhaeuser presented a contract that led to union-wide disappointment.
“With the increases in cost of living, we just can’t keep up with that,” Miller said. “It’s especially tough when you’re having to co-pay your insurance and health care, which was unaffordable in the first place.”
Miller said that employees have a $7,300 deductible they pay. Now, there’s an additional $100 per month payment included in the contract, he said. Along with having to pay more for their health care, he said Weyerhaeuser employees didn’t see any compensation for the increased rates.
Additional issues employees see with the proposed contract include a reduction to vacation time, minimal wage increases, and no retirement benefit improvements. Those on strike have felt that Weyerhaeuser has dragged its feet throughout the process of contract negotiations.
“We’d like the company to meet. We’ve tried to negotiate, but they’ve just seemingly skipped right over it,” Miller said. “They don’t answer emails or anything.”
Miller said employees are set to see a 37 cent wage increase. He, along with other Weyerhaeuser employees on strike, felt that was a laughable offer.
“We want something that’s more set in stone. We just want a livable wage,” Miller said. “We would like to bargain in a fair way and we just want them to value their employees. That’s one of the biggest things and right now, they just aren’t.”
The strike has seemingly impacted Weyerhaeuser financially, as stocks have fared poorly since the strike began on Sept. 12, according to a report by Oregon Business. Weyerhaeuser is set to release its third quarter results on Oct. 27.
The company is also set to hold a live webcast and conference call, beginning at 7 a.m. on Oct. 28 to discuss the quarter three results.