Western Forest Products reaches tentative deal with striking workers

The agreement still requires ratification by members of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937

Workers at a Western Forest Products site | Debra Brash/Times Colonist

What happened: Western Forest Products has reached a tentative deal with striking United Steelworkers members.

Why it matters: If ratified, the deal would conclude an eight-month strike, the longest in B.C. coastal forest history.

After eight months of job action, the longest strike in B.C. coastal forest history is closer to a resolution.

Western Forest Products Ltd. announced Monday (February 10) that is has reached a tentative deal with United Steelworkers Local 1-1937. The agreement is still subject to ratification by union members, however the union’s bargaining committee will be recommending that members approve the deal.

“This has been a particularly challenging time and I’m pleased that we were able to find common ground through the efforts of all involved,” stated Western Forest Products president and CEO Don Demens in a release to investors.

He credited the work of special mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers in reaching the agreement.

Roughly 3,000 members of the United Steelworkers local have been on strike since July. Union leaders claimed the company had asked workers to make concessions in areas such as seniority rights, vacation pay and pension contributions. 

Last Thursday, the B.C. government appointed two special mediators to work with both parties for a period of 10 days. 

The tentative agreement, if ratified, will replace a five-year collective agreement that expired in June 2019.

Western Forest Products told BIV the company is working to solidify plans to resume operations following ratification of the agreement. 

The company operates eight sawmills and four remanufacturing facilities along the coast of B.C. and Washington State, and has a lumber capacity of more than 1.1 billion board feet. Read more from BIV on how job action has affected the company's financials over time.

hwoodin@biv.com

@hayleywoodin