BY COLIN STAUB
After a heavy anti-union campaign from management, Weyerhaeuser workers at an engineered wood products plant in Eugene voted against unionizing. In ballots counted Aug. 30, the tally was 39 in favor of affiliating with Machinists District Lodge W24, and 73 against; 154 workers were eligible to vote.
Every other Weyerhaeuser plant in the area has union representation. The Eugene vote came just two weeks after workers at a Weyerhaeuser distribution center voted to affiliate with the Machinists. District Lodge W24 currently represents workers at roughly 16 Weyerhaeuser sites across the Northwest.
The union effort at the Eugene plant was spurred by a group of veteran employees, and at the beginning of the campaign, the Machinists reported 75% of workers were supportive. So what changed in the intervening weeks? For one, Weyerhaeuser began anti-union messaging.
“Their managers were going through and making really broad, open-ended statements that were just misleading,” said Machinists lead organizer Jessica Deming.
A manager joined pre-shift meetings to share his opinion on the union, according to workers. He suggested the Machinists are a for-profit organization and that signing a union card legally binds workers (neither is true). Workers were told dues would be $200 per check and they’d have to pay them forever, even if they moved on from the job (also false).
Weyerhaeuser also told workers the union would mean an end to their “gainsharing” benefit—an occasional bonus related to company performance. The Machinists were blunt in their response to that messaging.
“The company is correct, our union mills don’t have gainshare,” District Lodge W24 wrote. “Instead, we have substantially higher wages and benefits so we don’t have to depend on a small check that may or may not happen.”
Workers will remain nonunion for now but union supporters could decide to try again in a year.