PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in 36 years, Weyerhaeuser employees in Oregon and Washington voted to strike beginning Tuesday, citing low wage increases and healthcare premiums.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents more than 1100 Weyerhaeuser employees, said negotiations for a new bargaining agreement have been in the works since April. Even though the previous contract expired on May 31, the union said employees are continuing to work under that agreement until negotiations come to an end.
An overwhelming number of employees reportedly voted to reject the timber company’s offer on Aug. 19, with the union saying the proposal came “nowhere close to what our members wanted or deserved.” Union members passed the associated vote to strike soon after.
“All our members want is their fair share of the profits they earned for the company, keep up with the cost of living, and make the gains that a good employer should offer, in light of the success they have reaped off the labor of their employees,” IAMAW said in a release.
Competitive pay, reduction in vacation time, health care premiums and no improvement to retirement plans are among the issues on the table.
The union claims wage increases fell short considering the company gained record profits in 2021.
Additionally, the union says employees are expected to pay premiums for their high deductible health care plans for the first time in decades.
“This may seem like the norm out in the world today, but it is something that has not happened to our membership at Weyerhaeuser,” IAMAW added.
A union representative told KOIN 6 News that negotiations are expected to continue on Friday.
KOIN 6 has reached out to Weyerhaeuser for comment.