Unions representing 86 workers at a northern Maine pulp mill said members have accepted a contract that increases wages and makes changes in job classifications to address workers’ concerns about job security, ending a nearly six-week strike.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1490, along with millwrights and oilers and steam and water plant operators of Service Employees International Union Local 330-3 and Millwrights Local 1121, accepted the latest offer from Woodland Pulp in Baileyville on Friday.

The tentative three-year contract calls for an 11.6% wage increase and gives journeymen maintenance employees the option to be placed in a specific job classification, which mean they would immediately receive the raise. Those choosing to opt out will still receive increases, according to the unions.

Workers had said management tried to change job classifications, which they said jeopardized job security. That’s what prompted the strike that began Oct. 14. They accused management of trying to replace millwright, pipefitter, machinists and auto mechanic positions with a general mechanic classification.

The agreement was a quick reversal, coming a week after the unions rejected the latest company offer. Only a few days ago, five picketers accused of blocking a gate at the mill were arrested, although the unions disputed that claim.

Brendan Wolf, executive director of human resources and safety at the company, did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment on the unions’ statement.


Dan Loudermilk, a business representative for the machinists union, said in an interview that the classification issue was a “major sticking point.” After rejecting a union proposal multiple times that stipulated workers could move immediately into a new tier with a pay raise, the company finally accepted the union’s position, he said.

A top wage A1 mechanic paid $32.86 an hour would get a bump in pay to $36.50, moving into an A2 tier, Loudermilk said.

Wolf had previously said changing job classifications would improve the efficient and effective use of the workforce.

Other terms of the contract, according to the unions, are general wage increases of 4% in the first year and 3% in each of the second and third years; an end to a tiered vacation system, allowing all employees to cap out with a fifth week of vacation; an immediate “equity adjustment” of 30 cents to $1 an hour for employees in the bottom five water and steam plant classifications; and a contract ratification bonus of $750.

The mill, which employs approximately 300 workers in total, is owned by St. Croix Tissue Co., based in Canada, whose parent company, The International Grand Investment Corp., is a U.S.-based company held by a Chinese investment firm.

Workers are set to return to work Monday morning, Loudermilk said.

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