PITTSBURGH, April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that it has reached a tentative, four-year master agreement with International Paper (IP) after a week of negotiations over key economic issues. The agreement was reached after nearly a year of planning and strategic meetings culminating with the 80-person bargaining committee representing 15 sites meeting in New Orleans in face-to-face discussions.
"These negotiations are particularly important for our union," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "IP is the biggest company in the sector and a leader in the global industry. The success of our local unions here sets the tone for bargaining across the industry."
"The accord with IP represents a historic moment for our paper sector," said Jon Geenen, USW Vice President, who heads collective bargaining for its members employed in the paper industry. "In the past, our locals bargained site by site, even though most companies approach bargaining as part of a national strategy.
"One of main benefits of all the locals bargaining together at the same time is that everyone gets a voice in shaping the package," he said.
"What made the difference in these negotiations was the activism and participation of our local unions," said USW's Secretary-Treasurer and Chairman of the IP Union Council, Stan Johnson. "They were engaged, active and vocal about their priorities, and it paid off."
The local unions will take the offer, which 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, back to their members for discussion by the first week in May. A ratification vote will be conducted later in the month.
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/.
CONTACTS: Jon Geenen (412) 562-2440 Stan Johnson (412) 562-2325