Sappi union workers ratify new 3-year contract

Paper workers had been in contract negotiations since their previous contract expired in August
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 8:24 AM EDT
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SKOWHEGAN, Maine (WABI) - Union workers at the Sappi Somerset Mills approving a new three-year contract after threatening to go on strike earlier this week.

Union workers took to the streets last month in demonstrations, to fight for a new contract.

The contract between Sappi and members of the local United Steelworkers expired in August, and the electrical workers’ deal expired in February.

The parties had been meeting since then, however the union had rejected Sappi’s last offer by a 96% vote.

Wednesday, union workers ratified a new agreement they say contains the most lucrative package for members since Sappi purchased the mill in 1995.

President of USW Local 4-9. Pat Carleton tells told TV5 at the time, his members have lost paid protection when missing work due to COVID-19 or a virus exposure.

He added employee morale at the mill was low.

In a press release Thursday morning, Carleton said, “For many months, the company questioned our solidarity. The members spoke loud and clear. After working in the plant through the pandemic, this contract offer represents the dedication and commitment to keep our company profitable in our markets. It was long overdue.”

Congressman Jared Golden had issued a statement of support, saying: “I support the men and women of USW Local 9 in Skowhegan, who are standing together to bargain for a fair contract. These workers and their families are already dealing with inflation, and they shouldn’t have to deal with unreasonable increases in healthcare premiums in their new contract.”

Sappi North America has issued the following statement: “We are pleased that Somerset mill employees represented by the United Steelworkers voted to accept our proposal, which contains a number of significant improvements for our employees”

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