Labor negotiations at West Point mill at an impasse

by Bill Nachman - Posted on Mar 09, 2011 - 03:01 PM

It’s been business as usual at the Smurfit-Stone paper mill in West Point, corporate officials said Tuesday, despite that almost 400 union workers have not so far accepted a new labor contract. The company has advertised for trained replacement workers just in case they need to be hired to keep the mill open.

"We have not been informed that the union currently intends to initiate a strike at the mill," said Brad Gilks, Smurfit-Stone’s controller at West Point. "It is the company’s position to not make comments on the state of negotiations."

According to the Associated Press, the West Point mill is "preparing for a possible strike by hundreds of hourly workers after contract negotiations stalled."

The Gazette-Journal was not able to get a comment from the United Steel Workers Local 80467, which represents almost 400 workers at the mill. Anthony C. "Tony" Montana, a spokesman for the national USW, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., said "the USW has no comment on the situation at West Point but the local union folks are free to discuss whatever questions you have if they so choose."

Gilks said Smurfit-Stone "tendered its final offer for a four-year agreement on January 12th and agreed to keep it open and available until February 7. The union rejected the offer and refused to allow the union membership to vote on it."