Negotiators head to mediation in hopes of avoiding Princeton mill strike

Both sides of the labor dispute involving Princeton’s Weyerhaeuser Mill are hoping to avoid a strike through mediation.

Jeff Roos, president of the Interior Forest Labour Relations Association representing several southern interior mills, told The Spotlight Tuesday that mediation will take place November 14 – 16.

Weyerhaeuser has approximately 200 workers, making it the second largest employer in Princeton.

“We are optimistic that an agreement can be reached,” said Roos.

Mill workers have been without a contract since July 1, and last month voted 98 per cent in favor of a strike mandate.

A United Steel Workers Local 1-423 information bulletin, dated October 17, claimed the mill operators are asking for changes to the benefits package that include reducing name brand drug coverage and putting a cap on dental work.

The bulletin also stated the companies want more flexibility to change schedules and to eliminate overtime pay for Saturday clean up crews.

The elimination of a discipline sunset clause, extending the probationary period and eliminating the grading ticket premium were also concessions the union is resisting.

Last week local union plant chairman Barry Ovington said in an interview that a strike is highly unlikely.

“There will not be a complete shut down that’s for sure,” he said. “I don’t believe that could happen. Common sense will prevail.”

Ovington predicted, at most, there would be rotating one-day strikes at some point until there is an agreement.

Related: Princeton mill workers in strike position

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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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