SEATTLE — A group of Weyerhaeuser employees gathered outside the company's headquarters in Seattle Thursday ahead of a meeting between the company and the union.
More than 1,100 employees who work for the timber company in Washington and Oregon have been on strike since Sept. 13.
On Sept. 2, Weyerhaeuser workers voted down the company's latest contract proposal because of low wage increases, cuts to vacation times, and no improvements to retirement benefits. The employees said they were also expected to pay premiums for their high deductible health care plans for the first time in decades.
"I'm here because we need better medical. We want what them guys [company leaders] can do for their families, take them downtown, take them on little trips, take them to the ball game. It's our blood, sweat and tears that got them that record profit so, we think it's time they let us share in some of that," employee Rick Coma said on Thursday.
The unions said the deal comes after the company reported that it gained record profits in 2021.
"The company has been making record profit. We went through a pandemic. We've been there strong with them and working with the company. Coming to this contract here, we thought, had high hopes that we'd at least get caught up with inflation and their proposal to us doesn’t even come close to it," employee Jason Williams said.
The company and the union are scheduled to meet for a third time on Friday.
Weyerhaeuser is one of the largest manufacturers of wood products in the U.S. and owns millions of acres of timberlands.
RELATED | Employees at timber company Weyerhaeuser strike over wages
The timber company provided the below statement to KOMO News regarding the strike:
“We believe our last offer is very competitive, and we fundamentally disagree with how it has been portrayed to the public. The core of what we are offering includes competitive hourly wage increases over four years, no cuts to vacation schedules, and in fact improved vacation schedules for employees with fewer than 12 years of service. Retirement benefits remain fully intact (including pension benefits for eligible employees). We are also asking that our IAM member employees begin contributing to their healthcare plan premium, as all our other U.S. employees do. We have offered to pay 97 percent of the healthcare premium, with employees responsible for only 3 percent to start. This amounts to about $17 per month for single employees and about $46 per month for employees with families. We believe this is more than fair, and the breadth and quality of coverage available through our healthcare plan remains unchanged.
We know how important these jobs are to our employees, their families and everyone in the communities where we operate, and our goal is to make sure we can continue to pay competitive wages and benefits to our employees and keep our operations safely running, even in the toughest economic conditions.” – Weyerhaeuser Company Spokesperson.