Pulp and Paper Contracts

Article excerpt

Pulp and paper contracts After rejecting one tentative 5-year contract in early May, about 2,000 members of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (Ind.) ratified a 5-year agreement with the Weyerhaeuser Co. covering five pulp and paper mills in Oregon and Washington. The original tentative contract was rejected, according to the union, because workers at the time felt that the proposed wage increases were not large enough. Under the rejected pact, wages were to be raised 2 percent in each of the first 3 years and 3 percent in the next 2 years. (Like many other unionized paper and pulp workers, the Weyerhaeuser employees, who received only lump-sum payments in the last few years, have not had an increase in their base rate since 1986.) The union hopes the Weyerhaeuser agreement will set a pattern for upcoming negotiations at other companies it represents in the pulp and paper industry.

Terms of the accepted accord call for the same wage increases as the rejected pact, 12 percent over 5 years, with the first wage boost retroactive to March 15, 1990. According to a union representative, approval came because of a larger voting turnout and because a second rejection automatically would have given union leadership strike authorization. Other terms include a $1,100 per employee reserve account established by the employer to pay for health care premiums. If there are nay funds lft in the account by the end of the contract, they can be distributed to the employees or be used to pay for benefits in the next contract. In addition, the "variable pay" bonus plan was modified to be based on profits and productivity instead of quality, safety, output, and costs (as existed under the prior contract). …