Western Forest Products workers had their first chance Thursday to vote on a tentative deal that would end the nearly eight-month-long strike.
Port Alberni was the first to cast ballots, along with Ladysmith and Powell River. Members in Port McNeill, Gold River and Campbell River vote tomorrow.
Union local president Brian Butler has said the union has recommended acceptance of the agreement.
Some workers say the deal isn’t what they struggled for on the picket line while others say they are ready to go back to work.
James Hogan said he is ready to go back to the Alberni Pacific Sawmill but said the vote could go either way.
“It’s been long enough. I’m ready to go back to work,” Hogan said.
Bruce Stelmacker, who is also a WFP worker, thinks the vote will pass.
“Everybody has the right to vote and there’s some unhappy people right but overall with the recommendation from the negotiating committee I believe it will go forward,” Stelmacker said.
The details of the proposed deal are being kept private until all striking workers get a chance to vote on it on Thursday and Friday.
If the deal gets enough support, it would be an end to the longest strike in B.C.’s coastal forest industry.
“We’re hopeful that this puts an end to it. We’re hopeful that a deal will be reached here, that a deal works long term,” Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said.
A deal would put 3,000 striking workers back to work, many as soon as next week and revive economies in forestry reliant communities like Port Alberni, which have been hit hard by the shutdown. Members of the United Steelworkers union have been on strike since July.
“We’ve seen a significant reduction in sales for a lot of small businesses for the community, we’re seeing people laid off,” Minions said.
Results of the vote by striking workers are expected to be released on Saturday.