United Steelworkers Local 1-2017, which represents more than 1,500 forestry workers in B.C., has voted in support of a strike.
Union president Brian O’Rourke says 1,629 members voted, with 1,509 in support.
“This represents 93 per cent overall strike mandate for our bargaining committee. Committee members will be meeting within the next week. We will also be discussing dates with the Employer Association to return to the bargaining table for meaningful negotiations,” says O’Rourke.
The strike mandate is for operations affiliated with the Council of Northern Interior Forest Industry Relations (CONIFER), which includes operations in Houston, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Prince George, Mackenzie, Fort St. John, Quesnel and Williams Lake. Operations affected include divisions of Canfor, Conifex, Dunkley Lumber, Lakeland Mills, Tolko Industries and West Fraser Mills, among others.
Mills affected in and around Quesnel include Tolko Industries’ Quest Wood division, and Dunkley Lumber, which is located between Quesnel and Prince George.
“This is to try to negotiate a new collective agreement. We broke talks July 23, and asked members to give us a strike mandate,” says O’Rourke.
“We will sit down this week and will be notifying CONIFER to set up dates to negotiate.”
The collective agreement includes wages and benefits, and is the union’s main agreement. The previous agreement expired June 30, 2018.