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Baileyville mill workers call for higher wages to keep up with inflation

courtesy of Mike Higgins
"Fair Contract Now!" light shines on the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine on the evening of Nov. 17, 2022.

Workers at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville are calling on the company to offer higher wages ahead of their next round of negotiations later this month.

Michael Higgins, a local representative with the United Steelworkers, said that workers have been operating under extensions of their last contract since August. Higgins said that the union and company have been at an impasse over wages, as workers are seeking raises, and a cost-of-living adjustment, in response to high inflation.

"The bargaining unit, this bargaining committee, feels that the offer that they have on the table does not even keep us equal to cost of living. So that's really what this is all about," Higgins said.

USW Local 27 is also demonstrating over the next few days by flashing a "Bat Light" onto the mill with the message, "Fair Contract Now."

The union and company will next meet on Nov. 28. Higgins said the union could then vote on whether to strike or accept the company's final proposal, if it's offered at that point.

"But make no mistake, when the company gives us their next proposal, we are going to put them to task, and our membership to task" he said. "It's going to be a strike or accept vote. And that's serious."

Scott Beal, the environmental and security manager for Woodland Pulp, said that the company is optimistic it can bring negotiations to an "equitable and logical" conclusion in the weeks ahead.