June 17, 2011 Volume 112 Number 12

Steelworkers ratify pact at Georgia-Pacific's Wauna mill

At Georgia-Pacific’s paper mill in Wauna, Oregon, members of United Steelworkers Local 1097 ratified the company’s final contract proposal dated May 24.

Local 1097 members had voted down an earlier company contract offer in January and in April authorized a strike.

The new agreement provides across-the-board increases totaling 6 percent over four years for the plant’s roughly 800 members, but that is likely to be offset by increases in employee health care contributions.

Raises in the contract include a 2 percent wage increase retroactive to April 2010; 1 percent in October 2011; 2 percent in October 2012, and 1 percent in August 2013. Wages depend on work classification; in the previous contract they ranged from $17.49 for laborers to $34.44 for some machine tenders.

The mill makes tissue, paper towels and toilet paper.

Members pay 25 percent of their health insurance premium. The new agreement also contains a Georgia-Pacific proposal that members opposed during bargaining: Starting January 2012, the employee portion of the health insurance premium will be calculated on a per-dependent basis, meaning that workers with larger families will pay more. Members also agreed that Georgia-Pacific will drop Kaiser Permanente and switch to a health plan managed by United Healthcare, a for-profit insurer.

Some other changes:

  • Effective Sept. 1, no smoking will be allowed anywhere on company property, including parking lots.
  • New language in the no-strike clause (a pledge of no strikes while the contract remains in effect) spells out specifically that it includes “sympathy strikes,” in which one group of workers honors the strike of another group.
  • Georgia-Pacific will increase monthly pension contributions and remove a pension cap that limited payments to long-serving workers.

The new agreement will run through March 31, 2014.

Georgia-Pacific is owned by Koch Industries.

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