Western Forest Products, union reach tentative deal after tensions over LTD benefits, pension

Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers union have reached a tentative collective agreement after more than seven months of tensions over pensions and long-term disability benefits.

About 3,000 of the Vancouver-based lumber company’s employees walked off the job on July 1, 2019. In November, the company dropped it’s proposal to implement pension plan alternatives to which the union objected, but contention remained over the company’s reticence to extend long-term disability benefits to workers over age 60.

Read: Western Forest Products to cut health benefits for striking staff

Read: Western Forest Products, union at impasse over LTD benefits, wages

After months of impasse, the company brought in special mediators. “With the assistance of special mediators, . . . we have reached a fair and equitable agreement that balances the needs of our employees and our business,” said Don Demens, president and chief executive officer of Western Forest Products, in a press release. “This has been a particularly challenging time and I’m pleased that we were able to find common ground through the efforts of all involved.”

There’s no word on the details of the new tentative collective agreement, but the company noted in its press release that the USW bargaining committee said it intends to recommend its members accept the agreement.