IAM Forest Products Industry workers and representatives met for the second time this year to build on the momentum started at the last meeting in Fort Worth, TX to develop bargaining, organizing, communication and other strategies that will benefit IAM wood, pulp and paper members in that sector.
“In the first meeting in Texas we identified what we needed to do to move forward as a unified group of forest products industry workers,” said Headquarters General Vice President Robert Martinez, Jr., who led the conference. “In our second meeting, we’ve reviewed what we have done to accomplish those goals and build on the momentum we are gaining as a unified group. And the more we work together, the stronger we will be.”
Speakers at the conference updated attendees on the progress of completing the tasks identified at the first meeting, including results of a forest products industry member survey, steps taken toward establishing more coordinated bargaining in the industry, new communications tools including a new forest products workers’ newsletter and refining plans for organizing forest products workers.
Attendees also heard about a unique approach to organizing from Mark Smith of William H. Smith Trucking, an independent log hauling company in Oregon, and IAM General Counsel Mark Schnieider. After organizing with the IAM in July, Smith wants to organize fellow independent log hauling contractors, similar to the IAM’s effort with independent lobstermen and the IAM Maine Lobstering Union.
Other topics at the conference included reports on improving management practices on federal timber lands by NFFE/IAM National President Bill Dougan, global forest policies by IAM Trade and Globalization Director and Chief of Staff Owen Herrnstadt and options for bargaining health care coverage from representatives of the Nelson Trust.
Conference attendees also raised more than $2,000 for IAM members who were displaced from their homes and jobs during the Boles Fire in Weed, CA. The fire destroyed more than 150 homes and several commercial properties in September 2014.
“We will continue to make progress on the issues that will benefit our members and we appreciate the support that we are getting to keep moving forward,” said Woodworkers Department Chief of Staff Mike Rose. “What we are building now will ensure our members and the forest products industry will be around for the long haul.”