USW forest-sector members give strike mandate to bargaining committee

    VANCOUVER, June 15 /CNW/ - Ninety per cent of the 8,000 United
Steelworker (USW) members in logging, log transport, sawmills and other
forest-sector occupations throughout coastal BC have voted in favour of a
    "This is the strong strike mandate we needed to back up our demands,"
said USW District Director Steve Hunt. "It shows that our members say we're on
the right track and are prepared to take action if we don't get a deal that
respects their needs."
    USW negotiators are currently bargaining with coastal employers at four
separate tables. Talks are proceeding with International Forest Products
(Interfor) and Island Timberlands, while Forest Industrial Relations has
walked away from the table.
    A new pattern agreement would cover all 8,000 USW members at unionized
coastal forest companies and their contractors, replacing the 2003 BC
government-imposed agreement.
    Talks with Interfor will resume later today.
    The BC Labour Relations Board ordered TimberWest back to the bargaining
table today after the company refused to bargain over issues of
    "Although it is not easy, we are making some progress," said Hunt. "This
strong strike mandate puts our bargaining committee on solid ground."

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