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Weyerhaeuser employee strike enters second week

Negotiations continue between company and union


September 21, 2022

Sarah Brown

Signs remain standing with employees in front of the Santiam Weyerhauser mill on Monday, Sept. 19.

Weyerhaeuser employees across the West Coast are continuing a now-week-long strike that started Tuesday, Sept. 13. Strikers have gathered at the Lebanon location since that morning.

Affiliated with the Springfield-based International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge W246 (IAM), they said their wage increase for the next four years would be 7% less than the insurance rate increase the company plans over the course of the contract, among other items of contention. During the current contract, employees used an insurance company that offered a low deductible plan, but the union negotiated with the company to transfer to the company plan. According to Lodge President Tom Thede, that plan has a higher deductible, but employees didn't have to pay the deductibles during the contract's term.

The union met with Weyerhaeuser representatives via Zoom Friday, Sept. 16, Thede said. (A large rally was held at the Lebanon site the following day.)

Sarah Brown

An employee cooks up some brats for his coworkers during their seventh day on strike outside the Santiam Weyerhaeuser mill on Sept. 19.

"What they told us is that they've given us the previous two proposals (the two sides have been bargaining since May) and they wanted the union to propose something," Thede said. "So that's what we did. Basically we're kind of sticking with higher wage increases, no cost to the insurance benefits. That's probably one of the biggest items we're dealing with. Still (also) asking for increases in pension and no loss on our vacation scheduling."

The company told the union it would discuss the proposal and respond, he said. A tentative Zoom meeting is scheduled for Thursday morning, Sept. 22.

The IAM represents 1,200 Weyerhaeuser employees. Founded in 1900, the Washington-based real-estate investment trust, one of the world's largest private owners of timberlands, has about 130 locations in the U.S. and Canada, with 11 in Oregon, including Lebanon and Albany.


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