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Baileyville Workers Ratify Contract with Wage Increases, More Vacation Time & Additional Bonuses

Andy O’Brien
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Members of United Steelworkers Local 27 at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville voted overwhelmingly on December 19th and 20th to ratify a new three-year contract that includes higher-than-average wage increases, more vacation time and a signing bonus.

In early December, Local 27 voted to authorize a strike and reject a contract offer from the company because it didn’t provide a high enough wage adjustment to keep up with inflation. In the end, the company sweetened the deal by providing an additional week of vacation and a signing bonus with retroactive pay, based on the highest wage among Local 27 members, to the beginning of the new contract on September 1, 2022.

In total, members are receiving an additional $4100 in the bonus and retroactive pay. The company will also be distributing bonuses as part of the regular pay roll, which will save union members around 13-14 percent in taxes compared to a conventional signing bonus.

Local 27 members will also receive wage increases of 4 percent the first year, 3 percent the second year and 3 percent on the third year of the contract. Overall, the wage adjustments are significantly higher than the paper industry’s average annual wage adjustment of 2.7 percent.

On a scale of "poor" to "excellent", Local 27 President Shawn Howland rated the contract as “fair.”

“It was clear that we weren’t going to get the wage adjustment that we were looking for, so it was imperative that we got the most money for our members that we could,” said Howland. “There are always people who are unhappy with a contract, but in 29 years, the only time we saw a 4 percent raise was in 1996. So while we didn’t get the wage adjustment we were looking for, we did get a good raise and we got a bunch of money from the singing bonus. I’m pretty confident that we took the company as far as we could. There was nothing else to get.”