PITTSBURGH, May 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that members at all 15 local unions at International Paper (IP) ratified a four-year Master Agreement by a 73 percent vote. An 80-member bargaining committee had previously recommended ratification of the tentative agreement that was reached in early April. The contract covers some 6,000 workers.
"The USW is extremely proud of the progress made by our members in the paper sector," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "Strong leadership and solidarity at each of the locations was vital to reaching this agreement at IP. The success of our local unions here sets a precedent for bargaining in rest of the industry."
The new contract includes wage increases in each year of the agreement, improvements to the pension and 401(k), cost stabilization for health care costs and employment security.
"Local leadership did an outstanding job of representing the bargaining objectives of its membership," said USW Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson, who heads the union's bargaining committee at IP. "And the membership's resolve was demonstrated by its solidarity throughout these negotiations."
USW members covered by this contact include those represented by local unions in Augusta, Ga.; Campti, La.; Cantonment, Fla.; Courtland, Ala.; Georgetown, S.C.; Pine Hill, Ala.; Port Hueneme, Calif.; Prattville, Ala; Riegelwood, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; Selma, Ala.; Texarkana, Texas; Ticonderoga, N.Y.; Valliant, Okla.; and Vicksburg, Miss.
"We really succeeded in everyone having a voice in shaping the contract package," said USW International Vice President Jon Geenen, who heads collective bargaining for its members employed in the paper industry. "Long gone are the days of the union bargaining site by site, while the company negotiates from an overall national strategy."
The USW represents 850,000 workers in the U.S. and Canada employed in the industries of metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service sector. Some 100,000 are employed in the paper and pulp sector. For more information: www.usw.org/.
Wayne Ranick, (412) 562-2444
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)