By COLIN STAUB
A historic Pacific Northwest woodworkers’ strike is now in its sixth week after workers voted down another employer proposal that failed to fix the core issues behind the walkout.
Weyerhaeuser on Sept. 30 presented its first new offer since the strike began Sept. 13, and Machinists District Lodge W24 brought it to a vote by workers. The district lodge bargains on behalf of about 1,100 Weyerhaeuser workers who belong to four Machinist Woodworker locals in Oregon and Washington.
When ballots were in on Oct. 6, workers had rejected the offer by 90%, with more than 1,000 workers voting. Union officers expected that proposal to be voted down. It still had workers paying a share of health premiums for the first time in the contract’s history, one of the major reasons workers went on strike.
The numbers suggest hundreds of workers will need the company to substantially improve its offer before they vote to approve a contract.
“We’re doing what our members asked us to do,” said Brandon Bryant, directing business representative for District Lodge W24. “They told us this is not good enough, so we need to get something that’s significantly better.”
After the bargaining teams met again on Oct. 13 and 14, Bryant reported “some movement” on the core issues, but not enough to bring another proposal to workers.
Union and management planned to meet for an all-day bargaining session with the help of federal mediator Darrell Clark on Oct. 20 (after this issue went to press). While all previous sessions were held remotely over Zoom, this one was set to be an in-person meeting at the Machinists hall in Gladstone.
Weyerhaeuser workers aren’t crossing the strike picket line. Most are staying put on a $150-a-week strike benefit from the international union, though some have taken jobs elsewhere and may not return. District Lodge W24 is calling on other unions and community supporters to support the strike with online contributions to a striker support fund at https://bit.ly/3TcPZib, and by walking picket lines; see a list of locations at nwlaborpress.org/WeyerhaeuserStrike.