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Workers at the Woodland Pulp mill have authorized a strike

File photo from 2018 of the the Woodland Pulp paper mill as seen from the local high school in Baileyville.
Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public
File photo from 2018 of the the Woodland Pulp paper mill as seen from the local high school in Baileyville.

Employees at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville could strike by the end of the month.

More than 85% of the 123 voting members with United Steelworkers Local 27 voted to reject a contract offer from the company and authorize a strike earlier this week.

"That should send a very clear message to this company. That there's a disconnect here, between the hourly workers and this company," said Michael Higgins, a local USW staff representative.

Higgins said that while the company offered wage increases in its three-year contract proposal, it didn't include the cost-of-living adjustment that members demanded to help them deal with the effects of inflation.

"They've offered us very good general wage increases. But failed to recognize the cost of living adjustment that we need," he said.

The union is sending a certified letter to the company today terminating the current contract. Higgins said a strike would likely begin 10 days after the company receives the letter. That's expected to be around Dec. 19.

"We're disappointed in the voting results as one might expect," said Woodland Pulp spokesperson Scott Beal in an emailed statement. "The company believes the contract which was voted down is very competitive. Based on information we have received concerning recently concluded labor negotiations, the financial components of the offer are above the national average for our industry. Additionally, it's important to note the Company has not asked for any concessions during these negotiations and none were included in this or any previous offer to the Union. Woodland Pulp is hopeful the Union membership will reconsider their position and thus their vote. "

Updated: December 8, 2022 at 8:04 AM EST
A response from Woodland Pulp has been added to this post.