As one of the longest coastal forestry strikes in history rolls into its fifth month, Western Forest Products (WFP) is asking the union to come back to the table.
WFP is formally requesting the United Steelworkers Union to enter binding arbitration with independent mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers.
If the union agrees, that means any decision the mediators come to, will stand.
“You, your families, our contractors, customers, and operating communities are all counting on us to resolve the strike,” said Western Forest Products President and CEO Don Demons, in a release sent to all Western employees currently on strike.
“With no future talks scheduled, we are demonstrating our commitment to getting employees back to work with this proposal.”
But in a release today, the union says they will not enter binding arbitration ‘under any circumstance’.
According to the union, the last time they faced binding arbitration imposed by the provincial government back in 2004, the union was forced to accept a substandard Collective Agreement that ‘gutted the many rights the union had gained over decades of collective bargaining.’
The union says they’re not going to make that mistake again.
“They are trying to get a third party to force concessions on our members that they know they cannot achieve at the bargaining table,” said President of USA Local 1-1937 Brian Butler in a release to union members
Both sides do however say they’re ready to get back to the bargaining table, especially seeing now the WFB is indicating they are open to movement on their positions.
The Steelworkers Union has put in a request that WFB contact to schdeule a meeting with mediators immediately.