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Bipartisan Group of 50 Legislators Urge Woodland Pulp to Settle Fair Contract with Striking Workers

Andy O’Brien
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A bipartisan group of 50 Maine Legislators — including Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) and Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland) — have signed a letter urging Woodland Pulp in Baileyville to settle a fair contract with its union employees who have been on strike since mid-October. The strike is primarily driven by the workers' commitment to workplace safety, job security and preserving their core trades. Woodland Pulp's last proposal introduced a new job classification that threatens workplace safety and job security for millwrights, pipefitters, machinists, and auto mechanics.

The letter to Marty Richard, Vice President, US East at IGIC, and Brendan Wolf, Woodland Pulp’s Labor and Employee Relations Manager, reads in part:

These hardworking mill workers sacrificed a great deal during the pandemic to produce some of the highest quality wood products in the world and they deserve to be treated with fairness and respect. We urge you to negotiate with the workers in good faith and agree to a fair contract that protects job security and the core trades of your dedicated employees.”

The letter expresses disappointment that union workers have filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Woodland Pulp for bad faith bargaining and urges the company to bargain in good faith to provide satisfactory financial information and to withdraw its concessionary job classification proposal.

“As elected officials, we support the workers and their unwavering commitment to protect their jobs and their community, which relies on the stability provided by good union jobs at Woodland Pulp,” the letter concludes.

Local Washington County legislators Rep. Anne Perry (D-Calais), who represents Baileyville and surrounding towns, and Rep Kenneth “Bucket” Davis (R-East Machias) also signed the letter. Notably absent from the signatories is Senator Marianne Moore (R-Washington County), who represents most of the towns in the region. Members of the three unions have for weeks called, emailed and texted Senator Moore to ask for her support, but they have yet to receive a response. On Monday morning, Moore abruptly hung up on Woodland Pulp workers trying to reach her.

Approximately 22 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 1490 (District 4), 20 Millwrights, and 38 oilers and steam and water plant operators from Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 330-3 have been on strike since October 14, 2023. Millwrights Local 1121 members joined the strike line on Oct. 25.