Conifex sawmill in Fort St. James. (Conifex)

Steelworkers to take strike vote at Cariboo, northern B.C. mills

Despite U.S. tariffs, union wants more from high lumber profits

The union representing 1,500 mill workers across central and northern B.C. is taking a strike vote in negotiations with owners.

The United Steelworkers Wood Council issued a statement Tuesday announcing the vote will be held at 23 forest products mills, whose owners are represented in bargaining by the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations.

“The employers are having one of the best economic years in decades and workers should share in this prosperity,” said Brian O’Rourke, president of USW Local 1-2017.

Lumber prices have been high despite the imposition of U.S. import duties in February 2017, upheld by the U.S. Commerce Department in December at an average level of more than 20 per cent. Prices hit record levels in June, pushed by seasonal impact of the 2017 forest fires, severe winter weather and strong demand from the U.S. housing market.

RELATED: West Fraser continues burned timber salvage

Companies involved in the negotiations include Tolko and West Fraser mills in Williams Lake and Quesnel, Hampton Affiliates’ Babine operation at Burns Lake, Conifex mills in Fort St. James and Mackenzie, and Lakeland, Canfor operations at Fort St. John, Houston, Isle Pierre and Prince George and Dunkley Lumber near Quesnel and Prince George.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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