Sappi North American Labor Agreements Still Possible Without Strikes
Press release from the issuing company
BOSTON, June 20 -- Sappi Fine Paper North America, the leading manufacturer of coated fine paper in North America, announced today that employees at its largest mills, Somerset in Maine and Cloquet in Minn., voted against authorizing a strike. While there were votes authorizing a strike at the company's mills in Muskegon, Mich. and Westbrook, Maine yesterday, those votes do not mean a strike will actually occur.
"We are gratified and encouraged that our employees at Somerset and Cloquet voted against authorizing a strike," said Ronee Hagen, President and CEO, Sappi Fine Paper North America. "The final packages at the mills in Maine are highly competitive, and we're working very hard to negotiate fair and competitive agreements for our mills in Minnesota and Michigan. We hope the Steelworkers will provide a prompt opportunity for Somerset employees to vote on the final package that has been negotiated for that mill."
A majority vote for a strike authorizes union leadership to execute a strike when and if they deem it appropriate. Should the Steelworkers strike at the Muskegon and Westbrook mills, the company is prepared to pursue all lawful means to operate and protect and supply its customers.
"Our employee compensation is among the best in the paper industry in Maine and in the U.S., and we're hopeful that we can reach agreements without any strikes," said Hagen.
Sappi has been working to negotiate new labor agreements with the United Steelworkers of America (USW) for mill employees in Maine (Westbrook and Somerset), Michigan (Muskegon), and Minnesota (Cloquet).
The Steelworkers scheduled the strike authorization vote yesterday, June 19, 2006, without permitting members at Westbrook and Somerset to vote on final packages that were presented in March 2006. In addition, Cloquet has been actively engaged in contract negotiations, which are scheduled to resume August 9, 10 and 11. At Muskegon, negotiations are scheduled to resume July 18 and 19.
"The USW is focused on achieving a common expiration date, or national bargaining, for all of our North American mills, as an experiment for the paper industry," Hagen said. "This type of bargaining is not common in the paper industry because it does not support the flexibility necessary in our industry's challenging environment, or address the needs of each individual North American mill."
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