Milestone deal results in work for loggers

  • Feb. 2, 2009 7:00 a.m.

A little under half the union loggers at Edwards and Associates will be heading back to work this week – at least temporarily. On Jan. 21, the United Steelworkers, Local 1-1937 announced a deal with Island Timberlands Limited Partnership, in which a two-year logging contract was awarded to Edwards and Associates. Wally Cheer at Edwards says the contract will initially see about 40 people back to work for about 45 days. Before the Western Forest Products shutdown, Edwards had more than 90 people on the payroll. The deal involves logging an estimated 50,000 cubic metres a year, but the initial allocation is 16,000 cubic metres. The logging will take place on Southern Graham Island in Island Timberlands private land holdings. Mr. Cheer said this is not a lot of wood. “We’re hoping they will have more for us,” he says. Edwards typically logs 350,000 to 400,000 cubic metres a year. He says other work is dribbling in. He estimates his workers will get 30 days in cleaning up the wood Western Forest Products have on the ground to date, he says. But this deal between the union and Island Timberlands is a milestone, he says. “The Union should stand up and take a bow.” Mr. Cheer says the Steelworkers took Island Timberlands to the Labour Relations Board over this issue. Before the private land was taken out of the TFL and sold, he said the previous owner, Weyerhaeuser, was obliged to use union labour. Just because the land was sold, doesn’t mean they should be able to hire off-islanders, he said. And the Labour Relations Board agreed. The Observer tried to talk with the United Steelworkers about the agreement, but could not reach them by deadline.