About 1,200 Weyerhaeuser Co. employees in Washington and Oregon voted overwhelmingly Thursday to give the regional woodworkers union strike authority, paving the way for a work stoppage if negotiators continue to disagree on terms of a new labor contract.
The final ballot tally was more than 90 percent in favor of strike authority, said Wayne Thompson, district business representative of the International Aerospace and Machinists/Woodworkers Local District W24 Lodge. The vote total included ballots from nearly 400 union sawmill and other workers in Longview-based Woodworkers Local 536. Workers from Coos Bay, Ore., to Aberdeen, Wash., also participated in the vote.
Union members also voted down the most recent version of a proposed contract by roughly the same margin, Thompson said Friday. “I’ve never seen our crews this solid,” he said. Thompson said negotiators are still working with Weyerhaeuser representatives to get back to the bargaining table.
“We are disappointed in this outcome, but optimistic that we can continue to work with union leaders to reach a mutually acceptable agreement,” Weyerhaeuser said Friday in a statement.
No date has been set for a strike, but no further contract talks are scheduled, Thompson said. However, an official at Woodworkers Local 24 in the Raymond area said the union and company have scheduled talks on July 10-11, the Raymond, Wash.-based Willapa Harbor Herald reported late Friday afternoon.