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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
Fax: 604-267-3342
ISSN 1712-3763
Web: www.columbiajournal.ca

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Columbia Journal logoVolume Ten, Number One   January 2005    www.columbiajournal.ca

    Delta Weyerhaeuser Strike over Jobs Heats Up

    CPP News

    Members of the United Steelworkers and their supporters gathered in Vancouver on December 7 to rally support for members of Steelworkers Local 1-3567 on strike against Weyerhaeuser, claiming the firm’s bosses are taking advantage of new provincial government mill closure laws and reneging on promises to maintain job development in BC.

    While Steelworker members have been on strike at Weyco's Northwest Hardwoods mill in Delta, BC since July, the firm has shifted production to the US Pacific Northwest and refused to talk.

    Steelworker District 3 Director Steve Hunt noted that in spite of promises to invest in BC, Weyerhaeuser has not delivered. "They said if the Campbell government changed the Forest Act and timber harvesting regulations, and if changes were made in their agreement with their employees, they would invest over a billion dollars here. Well, they got what they wanted but we're still waiting."

    Recent changes to forest laws and regulations have given companies a free hand to close mills, contract out and reconfigure their timber-harvesting activities, Hunt noted. The provincial government has rewritten the province's Forest Practices Code. Earlier this year, a contract imposed on workers allowed longer shifts and reduced overtime and travel-time, thereby making work more dangerous.

    "Weyerhaeuser is making millions in BC but not putting it back to work here by creating jobs or strengthening our communities," said Steelworkers-IWA Council president Norm Rivard. "It's time this company started benefiting its employees, their families and their communities, not just its owners."

    Bosses insist there are no plans to close any further operations here, including the Delta facility. But strikers warn that the new laws are simply encouraging forestry firms to continue downsizing.

    "We need people all over BC to let this company know we don't do business this way here," says Hunt. In the third-quarter of 2004, Weyerhaeuser profits soared to a record $594 million, seven times their third-quarter profits last year, and twice their total 2003 earnings. So far this year the firm has made over $1.08 billion.

    Delegates to the B.C. Federation of Labour's 48th Convention endorsed an emergency resolution to oppose Weyerhaeuser's implementation of dangerous shifts, to lobby the government to ensure companies invest in resource-dependent communities, to oppose raw log exports and to support the strategic campaign against the company.

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