Striking loggers receive support at Campbell River rally

United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 held a rally at Western Forest Products’ office in Campbell River on Sept. 26, 2019. The WFP workers have been on strike since July 1. Photo by Marissa Tiel/Campbell River Mirror

Striking loggers received words of encouragement from union and government leadership at a rally in Campbell River today.

Hundreds of United Steelworkers (USW) union members and their supporters gathered in the lot below Western Forest Products’ (WFP) second-storey office in the Discovery Harbour Centre Thursday afternoon.

Holding up signs that read: “Unsociable Alternate Shifts,” “WFP Unfair Drug Policy,” “WFP Bullies of the Woods” among others, the crowd chanted their approval of the speakers.

WFP workers have been on strike since July 1, after 98.8 per cent of the USW members voted in favour of a strike when the two sides couldn’t ratify a collective agreement to replace their previous five-year agreement.

Mediation talks broke down mid-September.

The crowd heard from USW Local 1-1937 President Brian Butler, who said the union wasn’t willing to agree to the 24 concessions brought to the bargaining table.

“Somewhere they calculated that our members are weak. Somewhere they calculated that our union was weak,” he said. “Well I can tell you right now they are dead wrong. We will be on the picket line one day longer than this company is willing to take.”

He was interrupted as the crowd broke into chants of: “One more day.”

Butler referenced a WFP drug and alcohol policy and alternate shift schedules.

“These are dangerous shifts that have long hours,” he said. “They not only put workers in danger, they are shifts that are not conducive to having a quality family life.”

The crowd then heard from USW Local 2009 President Al Bieksa, who was visiting from the Lower Mainland.

“I know the kind of courage it takes to stand on a picket line and go against a multi-billion dollar corporation,” he said. “I know the courage and the determination that every one of you have when you made your decision to stick with your bargaining committee and go on strike for what you say is fair.”

He offered support from the 3,000 members on the Lower Mainland.

Jeff Bromley, the USW Wood Council Chair then addressed concerns over health benefits.

He said that on Sept. 1, a lot of the striking workers’ benefits were cut off, leaving more than 1,000 without access to benefits. But as of this morning, the Coastal Health and Welfare Trustees along with USW Local 1-1937 had entered into an agreement “to provide for your benefits in the same manner they are currently in and so your benefits will be restored if you opt in.”

The workers were congratulated by many of the speakers, including Rachel Blaney, NDP candidate seeking re-election in North Island – Powell River, for their bravery in continuing to strike after nearly three months on the picket line.

“I know it’s hard. I want to recognize that,” she said. “It’s hard to keep standing up every single day, waking up knowing you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to let people know. And it’s hard on people. It’s hard financially; it’s hard emotionally. And we know that we’re going to last that one extra day, but damn it’s hard when we have to do it every single day.”

Another rally is planned for WFP’s Nanaimo office, but a date and time were not announced.

RELATED: Union says mediated negotiation with WFP has been ‘disappointing’

RELATED: Striking WFP workers in Campbell River say loss of benefits will ‘create animosity that will last for years’


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

More than 30 cars get tires slashed in Oaklands neighbourhood

VicPD are asking for help from witnesses to the incidents

Working with offenders: a look at Correctional Service Canada

CSC is one of many vendors featured at the upcoming Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair

Women in Business: Artist Sierra Lundy answers your questions

Black Press Media celebrates women who are making a difference

The Amazing Race host brings pizza fundraiser to Victoria

Host of The Amazing Race & 2010 Olympic Gold Medalist, Jon Montgomery, to host Pizza Pigout.

Matt Mays ready to howl into the Victoria night

Veteran Juno-winning rocker combines upbeat and mellower material for Oct. 22 show

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Camera licker, wind gusts and rare bird make headlines this weekend

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

Report suggests new BC Ferries terminal near YVR

Metro Vancouver currently has two ferry terminals at northern and southern reaches

B.C. scouting group’s tent destroyed by black bear on Thanksgiving

The Richmond-based Sea Dragon Sea Scouts were camping at Mount Seymour Provincial Park

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Most Read