On the Picket Line

Steelworkers in British Columbia strike Western Forest Products

By Ned Dmytryshyn
October 14, 2019

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Some 2,600 loggers and sawmill workers who are members of United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 have been winning solidarity in their strike against Western Forest Products. The unionists, who walked out July 1, are fighting concessions demanded by the bosses including contracting out jobs, eliminating defined benefit pensions, a two-tier wage with different pay for new hires, and attacks on seniority rights.

“Our morale is high and we will never accept the concessions the company is demanding,” Brian Butler, Local 1-1937 president, told the Militant. “It’s about corporate greed.” The company made over $70 million in profits last year.

Picket lines have been going strong in Nanaimo, Chemainus, Ladysmith, Port Alberni, Cowichan Bay, Campbell River and 15 logging operations across Vancouver Island.

Shortly after the strike began, the British Columbia Federation of Labour, representing 500,000 unionized workers, issued a “hot edict,” which calls on affiliated union members to no longer handle any of the company’s coastal lumber, log and wood products.

The 5,000 members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 400 in British Columbia are among those refusing to deal with the company.