One day after a successful rally for workers outside Cascades Containerboard Packaging in Niagara Falls, N.Y., U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) wrote to the President of the company, urging him to “negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement expeditiously.”
In April 2019, more than 100 employees voted to join the Machinists Union. The National Labor Relations Board certified the results the next month. Yet, more than two years later, Cascades Containerboard has failed to negotiate more than a few minutes each day, violating the intent of the National Labor Relations Act.
It is highly unusual for companies to delay bargaining this long after NLRA-governed organizing campaigns.
“In the time between then and now, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of workplace safety and worker empowerment into sharp focus,” Higgins wrote. He noted how Cascades Containerboard employees continued working throughout the pandemic, producing packaging materials that many depended upon through quarantine, physical distancing, and other restrictions.
“Through the most challenging of circumstances, they have demonstrated they are hardworking, dedicated, and deserving of a fair contract,” the letter continued.
“The IAM Executive Council is monitoring this situation closely and providing the necessary resources to achieve a first contract,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “We will stand by these workers’ side every day, every night, for as long as it takes to get a contract. Our union will join together and fight as we did for the last two years. The only way we’re going to get through this is together.”
“Cascades employees deserve a contract,” said District 65 Directing Business Representative Ron Warner. “Rep. Higgins has been a champion for workers, and lending support to our efforts is a huge boost for workers at Cascades. It’s been two years now. The members are not intimidated by these antics. They stood up to a very aggressive anti-union campaign put on by the company and won their election. The workers continue to stand strong and stay committed to obtaining a first contract.”
The workers are trying to gain respect and dignity on the job after years of internal non-negotiation, mismanagement, and outright disrespect.